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Qermta edition, enlarged to 3 vol- 
ume wit* portfolio of aiustratioBi 

















To my knowledge this is the first time that the 
attempt has been made on a somewhat large scale to 
cover the entire subject of Babylonian- Assyrian civili- 
zation for English readers. 

The aim of this work is to present a survey of the 
remarkable civilization which arose in the Euphrates 
Valley thousands of years ago and which, spreading 
northwards, continued to flourish till close to the thresh- 
old of the Christian era. As a result of the combined 
activities of explorers, decipherers and investigators 
of many lands during the past seventy years, we can 
follow the unfolding of the growth of the centres of 
settlement in the south which led ultimately to the 
formation of the Babylonian Empire, and of the off- 
shoot of Babylonian civilization which resulted in the 
rise of a rival empire to the north, known as Assyria. 
While much still remains to be done before we can be 
said to have solved the problems — historical, linguistic, 
archaeological and ethnological — raised by the discov- 
eries made beneath the mounds which concealed the 
remains of forgotten Babylonian and Assyrian cities 
for so many centuries, we have learned to know the 
customs and manners, the religion, the law, the com- 
merce and art of both Babylonia and Assyria quite 
intimately. We know how these peoples lived and how 
they died, the arrangement of their houses, palaces and 
temples, as well as of their tombs ; their daily life and 
their religions aspirations. The various occupations 
of the people are revealed in thousands upon thousands 


of clay documents, found in the mounds, which tell of 
business activities, of commercial intercourse, of legal 
disputes, of the growing complications of social life, and 
of judicial decisions affecting all classes of the popu- 
lation. The beliefs and practises prevailing in Baby- 
lonia and Assyria are illustrated by abundant literary 
material, dating from the oldest period down to the fall 
of Babylonia and beyond that into the era of Persian 
and Greek control. A considerable amount of liter- 
ature in the stricter sense of the term has also come 
down to us on the clay tablets ; and finally monuments, 
the remains of temples and palaces, with wall sculpt- 
ures, statues, votive offerings, cult objects and orna- 
ments enable us to trace the course of art development 
along the centuries that span the existence of the Baby- 
lonian and Assyrian Empires. 

The moment seems, therefore, opportune for grou] 
ing together the large amount of material at our dis 
posal, with a view of presenting a general picture of 
Babylonian- Assyrian civilization. In this endeavor I 
have utilized the results of the researches of many 
others, besides embodying those of my own, for the 
field of investigation embracing Babylonia and Assyria 
is now too large to be cultivated in its entirety by any 
single investigator. It has been my aim throughout 
to present only such results as may safely be regarded 
as definite, and to abstain from mere haphazard and 
conjectural views. Naturally, in a work of a general 
character and intended for the larger public, some 
details had to be passed over for fear of crowding 
the picture. In such a selection personal judgmen 
must inevitably be the guiding factor, but I trust tha 
I have, on the whole, succeeded in picking out what i 




most important for a general view of the civilization 
and also most characteristic. 

I hope that the liberal use which has been made 
of illustrations will be looked upon as contributing to 
the clearer setting forth of the results. Here, too, a 
selection was called for, and I have had in mind to 
place at the disposal of the reader reproductions of 
all the more important monuments, as well as of many 
less known objects, so as to furnish a series that may 
form a tolerably complete companion to the text, I 
have included specimens also of cuneiform documents 
so as to show the kind of material from which Assyri- 
ologists obtain their results. Special attention may 
also be called to the attempt to illustrate the course 
of decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions with 
the aid of reproduction and selection of cuneiform 
signs and combinations of such signs into words. The 
decipherment of an unknown script is a fascinating 
theme even to the layman, and I feel that I owe no 
apology for taking the space necessary to make clear 
to the general reader how it was possible to find a 
key to the reading of the puzzling combinations of 
wedges that became the medium of written expression 
in the Euphrates Valley. Equally interesting is the 
story of the way in which the ancient cities of Baby- 
lonia and Assyria were dug up by explorers, undaunted 
by difficulties that at times seemed insurmountable. I 
have tried to tell the story without belaboring the gen- 
eral reader with too many details, but with due regard 
to setting forth the merits of each one of the pioneers 
to whom the world owes a lasting debt. To emphasize 
this debt I have united in one plate the portraits of 
Layard, Bawlinson, Grotef end, Hincks, Oppert, George 


Smith, de Sarzec, and Harries, whose names are indis- 
solubly linked with the recovery of our knowledge of 
the long-forgotten civilization of Babylonia and As- 
syria. Three of these men, George Smith, Ernest de 
Sarzec and John Henry Haynes, went to premature 
graves as the result of their arduous labors in the inter* 
est of science, which claims its martyrs no less than re- 
ligion. But for circumstances beyond my control, I 
would have included the portrait of P. E. Botta, 1 the 
pioneer among the explorers of Assyrian mounds, as well 
as those of two scholars still with us, of Robert Koldewey, 
the leader of the German expedition which has con- 
ducted excavations in Babylonia for upwards of four- 
teen years, and of Friedrich Delitzsch, the distinguished 
Professor of Assyriology at the University of Berlin, 
who has done more than any other living scholar to 
stimulate the study of Assyriology through the training 
of scholars, now scattered in various pails of the world, 
and through his own contributions in advancing our 
knowledge of the Babylonian and Assyrian language 
and literature. Besides these, there is a long honor roll 
among living scholars, who, in this country, in England, 
France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Holland and 
the Scandinavian countries, are devoting their careers 
to the further elucidation of the subject, and through 
whom contributions to the sum of human knowledge are 
being constantly made. To all of these, from whose re- 
searches I have derived help, I wish to make a hearty 

In the closing chapter I have added specimens from 
the various branches of the literature of Babylonia and 

1 There is a portrait of Botta in the Louvre Museum, but un- 
fortunately, on account of the war, no photograph of it could be 



Assyria, which are intended to serve in part as amplify- 
ing the references to such literary products in the body 
of the book, and partly to give the reader a view at 
closer range of literary composition as developed in 
the Euphrates Valley, and as further carried on in 
Assyria. The translations, it may be added, aim at 
being literal, with due regard, however, to reproducing 
in English the effect of the original. 

A sense of deepest gratitude leads me to express, 
as on former occasions, my indebtedness to my dear 
wife for her aid in preparing this work, an aid ever 
generously and lovingly given. In addition to other 
services she has read a proof of the entire work and if, 
as a result, the pages are comparatively free from 
those slips which are so difficult to avoid, and which one 
likes to ascribe to the pranks of devilish imps by whom 
in proof-reading one is surrounded, it is due to the care 
which she has bestowed on her task. 

The index is the work of my pupil and colleague, 
Dr. B. B. Charles, Instructor in Semitic Languages at 
the University of Pennsylvania, whose co-operation 
has, as on former occasions, been most cheerfully given. 
To the publishers my thanks are due for the interest 
that they have displayed in the progress of the work, 
for their patience in waiting for the completion of the 
manuscript, prepared under many inevitable interrup- 
tions, and for the handsome form that they have given 
to the text and to the illustrations. 

My thanks are due also to the authorities of the 
British Museum, of the Musee de Louvre, of the Berlin 
Museum, to Dr. G. B. Gordon, the director of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania Archaeological Museum, to Mr. 
J. Pierpont Morgan Jr. and to Miss Belle Da Costa 



Greene, the efficient Librarian and custodian of the 
Morgan collection, and to the Deutsche Orient Gesell- 
schaf t, for permission to use illustrations from publica- 
tions, and reproductions from antiquities and monu- 
ments in their possession ; likewise, for similar permis- 
sion, most generously given, to a number of publishers in 
this country and abroad, namely, Behrend & Co. Berlin; 
Chapman and Hall, London; Chatto & Windus, Lon- 
don ; J. C. Hinrichs, Leipzig; Curts and Jennings, Cin- 
cinnati ; Ernest Leroux, Paris ; Luzac & Company, Lon- 
don ; Macmillan & Company, New York ; W. A. Mansell 
and Co., London; John Murray, London; Martinus 
Nijhoff, The Hague; G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York; 
Georg Reinier, Berlin ; The Society of Biblical Archaeol- 
ogy, London; W. Speman, Berlin; Sundcri/ School 
Times, Philadelphia; Alfred Toepelmann, Giessen; and 
thirdly to a large number of colleagues, who either 
placed photographs at my disposal or have allowed me to 
reproduce illustrations from books published by them. 
It gives me particular pleasure to acknowledge in this 
way the kindness of such friends of many years' stand- 
ing as Prof. Paul Haupt of Johns Hopkins University; 
Dr. W. Hayes Ward ; Prof. A. T. Clay of Yale Univer- 
sity, Prof. A. Y. Williams Jackson of Columbia Uni- 
versity; Prof. Carl Bezold of the University of Heidel- 
berg ; Mr. L. W. King of the British Museum, Mr, R. C. 
Thompson, M. Salomon Reinach of Paris; Dr. T. G. 
Pinches of London ; Prof. R. W. Rogers of Drew Theo- 
logical Seminary; Rev. Dr. John P. Peters of New 
York ; Dr. E. J. Banks ; Prof. Friedrich Delitzsch of the 
University of Berlin ; Prof. Eduard Meyer of the Uni- 
versity of Berlin, and M. Francois Thureau-Dangin of 


Lastly, I wish to record here the debt of gratitude 
that I owe to the friend of so many years to whom it 
is a pleasure and a great privilege to be permitted to 
dedicate this work. What I owe to the friendship of 
Joseph George Rosengarten and to my association with 
him cannot be adequately expressed in words. Him- 
self a scholar, active and fruitful in many fields, he has 
been the guide and friend of many scholars connected 
with the institution in whose service I have now spent 
thirty years. Keenly appreciative of scholarly efforts 
in every field, he has done much to promote by his ex- 
ample and by his aid researches among the members 
of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, which 
more than anything else redound to the honor and glory 
of an institution of learning. In dedicating this book 
to him I feel that I am also acknowledging, though in 
poor coin, the debt of my colleagues as well as my own. 

Mobbis Jastbow, Jr. 

UmvBBanT or Pennsylvania 
Skftembbr, 1915 


I. Excavations at Babylonian and Assyrian Sites 1 

II. The Decipherment of the Cuneiform Script 63 

III. Survey of Babylonian and Assyrian History 120 

IV. The Gods of Babylonia and Assyria 187 

-< V. The Cults and the Temples of Babylonia and Assyria. 237 

VX Law and Commerce 283 

**Vn. The Art of Babylonia and Assyria 367 

VIII. Specimens of Babylonian and Assyrian Literature . . 427 
Index 497 



1. Group or Explorers op Babylonia and Assyria, and or 
Early Decipherers or Cuneiform INSCRIPTIONS: Sir 
Austen Henry Layard, (1817-1894) Sir Henry C. Raw- 
unson (1810-1895), Georq Friedrich Grotefend (1775- 
1863), Rev. Edward Hincks (1 792-1 SG6), Jules Oppert 
(1825-1905), George Smith (1840-1876), Ernest de Sarzec 
(1837-1901), John Henry Haynes (1849-1910) Frontispiece 

II. Map or Babylonia and Assyria 5 

From Jaatrow, Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Baby- 
lonia and Assyria, N. Y., 1910, by kind permission of the pub- 
lishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons 

HI. Fig. 1. Mound and Village or Khorsabad, the Site or the 

First Excavations in Assyria 14 

Botta et Flandin, Monument dc Xinive, Paris, 1849-50, PI. 3 
Fw. 2. Bibs Nimbud, the Site or the Ancient City or 
Borsippa. The Ruined Edifice is the Remains op the 

8even-storied stage-tower 14 

Peters, Nippur, Putnam's, N. Y., 1897, facing page 214 

IV. Fig. 1. Hunting Scene in a Forest (Khorsabad) 16 

Fig. 2. Procession or Captives, Bearing Tribute (Khor- 
sabad) 16 

Botta et Flandin, Monument de Ninive, Paris, I8G7, PI. 127 and 

V. Fia. 1. Winged Bull wtth Human Face from the Palace 
op Sargon at Khorsabad, Guarding the Entrance to 

One of the Large Halls 18 

Botta et Flandin, Monument de N'inive, PI. 45 

Fio. 2. Attempted Restoration of Sargon's Palace 18 

Place, Ninive et VAssyrie, Paris, 1867-70, PL 18bis 

VI. Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, Kino op Assyria (858-824 b.c.), 
Illustrating His Triumphant Wars. The Second Row 
Shows the King Receiving the Tribute of Jehu, the 
King of Israel 20 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 1st Series, John Murray, London, 

1849, PI. 53 

VII. Fio. 1. King Sennacherib of Assyria (705-681 b.c.) in His 

Chariot (Kouyunjik) 22 

Fio. 2. Carrying Material Across a Stream — Palace of 
Sennacherib at Kouyunjik (Nineveh) 22 

Paterson, Assyrian Sculptures, Martinua Nijhoff, The Hague, 

1912, PI. 42 and 26 

VIII. Hunting Scenes from the Palace op Ashurbanapal, Kino 

of Assyria (668-626 b.c.) 24 

Fio. L Lion Hunt 

Fig. 2. Hunting Wild Horse* 

W. A. Mansell & Co., London. Photographs of Assyrian Antiqui~ 

ties in the British Museum, Part III, Nos. 477 and 485 



DC Tablets from Ashubbanapal's Ldrart 96 

Fio. 1. Omen Tablet, with Colophon at thb Bottom or 

thb Left-hand Column 
Fio. 2. Syllababy, Fobnibhino Explanations op Cuneipobm 

Besold, Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablet* in the Kouyunjik Col- 
lection of the British Museum, London, 1889-1809, vol. v, PI. X 

and XII 

Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum 

X. Shamash, thb Sun-god, Seated in Hib Shbinb at Sippab 37 

Rawlinson, The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, London, 
1884, vol. v, PI. 60 

Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum 

XI. Fio. 1. Specimen op Babylonian Boundabt Stone, Contain- 
ing Record op Grant op Land, with Numerous Designs 
Representing Symbols op the Gods: Found at Abu Habba 39 
King, Babylonian Boundary Stone and Memorial-Tablets tn the 
British Museum, London, 1912, PI. 83 

Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum 

Fig. 2. Stone Pedestal (Steatite) with Grouching Figures, 

prom Telloh 39 

De Sarsec et Heusey, DScouveries en ChaldSe, Ernest Leroux, 
Paris, 1884-1912, PI. 21, No. 5 

XII. Figs. 1 and 2. Excavations op Palace op Gudea, Ruler 
op Lagash (c. 2450 B.C.) and op Later Edifice Erected 
on the Same Site 41 

Fig. 3. Terra-cotta Cylinder, Containing Detailed Record 
op Gudea's Building Achievements and of His Devo- 
tion to the Gods 41 

Dtcouvcrtes en ChaldSe, PI. 53bia and 36 

XIII. Fig. 1. Diortte Seated Statue of Gudea, Ruler op 

Lagash (c. 2450 B.C.) 43 

DScouvertes en ChaldSe, PI. 20 

Fig. 2. Standing Statue op Gudea 43 

Cros, Heusey et Thureau-Dangin, Nouvclles FouUles de Tetto, 
Leroux, Paris, 1910, PI. 1 

XIV. Fig. 1. Specimens op Tablets and Inscribed Cones Found 

at Telloh 45 

Dicouvertes en ChaldSe, PI. 41 

Fig. 2. Necropolis at Telloh, Showing Methods op Burial 45 
Cros, Heusey and Thureau-Dangin, Nouvelles Fouiiles de Tetto, 
Leroux, Paris, 1910, p. 126 

XV. Fig. 1. Slipper-shaped Coffins (Persian Period) Found 

at Nippur 48 

Fig. 2. Incantation Bowls with Aramaic Inscriptions 

Found at Nippur 48 

Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, Series 
A, vol. ix, PI. 16, and Series D, vol. i, p. 447 

XVI. Fig. 1. White Stone Statue of the Goddess Ninlxl (Bismya) 53 
Fig. 2. Design on an Inscribed Boat-shaped Vase (Bismya) 53 

Fig. 3. Design on an Inlaid Vase (Bismya) 53 

Banks, Bismya or the Lost City of Adah. Putnam's, New York, 
1912, pp. 258, 139 and 268 



XVII. Fig. 1. Excavations at Kaleh-Shergat, the 8it» of Abhtjr, 

the Ancient Capitol of Assyria 57 

Andrae, Die Fesiungswerke von Awr, Hinrichs, Leipzig, 1913, 


Fio. 2. Memorial Steles Erected at Ashur in Honor or 
Rulers and High Officials 57 

Andrae, Die Stelenreihen in Assur, Hinrichs, Leipzig, 1913, PI. IX 

XVIII. Fio. 1. The Lion of Babylon. Glazed Tile Work of thb 
Days of Nebuchadnezzar II., King of Babylonia, (604- 

561 B.C.),, 

Koldewey, Dob Wieder Erstehende Babylon, HinrichB, Leipzig, 
1913, Fig. 16 

Fig. 2. Abchway of Colored, Glazed Tiles (Khorsabad) . . 
Place, Ninive et VAssyrie, PI. 15 



XIX. Fig. 1. Ruins at Persepolis 64 

Jackson, Persia, Past and Present, Macmillan A Co., New York, 

1906, facing p. 311 

Fia. 2. Remains of the Propyi^ea of the Palace of Xerxes 

I (486-465 B.C.) at Persepolis 64 

Perrot and Cbipiez, History of Art in Persia, Chapman and Hall, 
London, 1892, facing p. 292 

XX. Specimens of the Three Classes of Cuneiform Characters 
on the Monuments at Persepolis. B and G (Through 
Which Grotefend Discovered His Key) Represent 
Class I, i.e., Old Persian; C Represents Class III, i.e., 
Babylonian- Assyrian; D Represents Class II, i. e. t Neo- 

Elamitic 70 

Careten Niebuhr, Reisebeschretbuna naeh Arabien und andern 
umlieaenden Ldndern, Copenhagen 1776-1778 vol. ii, PI. XXIV. 

XXI. Fig. 1. Portion of the Great Rock Sculpture and Inscrip- 
tion of Darius I (522-486 b. c.) Showing Darius Receiv- 
ing the Nine Rebels and Pretenders to the Throne ... 83 
King and Thompson, The Sculpture* and Inscriptions of Darius 
the Great on the Rock of Behistun in Persia, British Museum 
Publication London, 1907, PI. Ill 

Reproduced by permiMioa of the Truateea of the Britiab Museum 

Fig. 2. Vase of Xerxes I (486-466 b. a), Containing the 
Name of the King in the Three Classes of Cuneiform 
Characters (Old Persian, Neo-Elamitic and Baby- 
lonian-Assyrian) and in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. 83 

A. de Caylus, Recuetl d'AntiquiUs Eguptiennes etc., Paris, 1762, 

vol. v, PI. XXX 

XXII. Fig. 1. Sumerian Type 121 

Dicouvertes en Chaldie, Ft. 6bis No. la 

Fig. 2. Limestone Head (Bismya), Showing Early Semite 

Type in Babylonia 121 

Banks, Bismya, Putnam's, New York, 1912, p. 256 

XXIII. Fig. 1. Obelise or Manishtusu, King of Kish (c.2600 

B.C.) .134 

Fig. 2. Bust of Manibhtubu 1H4 

Both found at Susa, whither they were carried by an Elamite 
conqueror in the 12th century B.C. DeUgation en Perse, 
Memoires, vol. ii, (Ernest Leroux, Paris, 1900,) PL IX, and voLx, 
(Paris, 1908,) PI. I 



XXIV. Fig, I. Lugal-daudu, Kino op Adab, as Ttpe op Sumerian 143 

Banks, Bismya, p. 191 

Fig. 2. Marduk-nadin-akhi, King op Babylonia (c. 1140- 
1066 b.c.) From a Boundary Stone op the King's Reign, as 
Type op Semite 143 

Fung, Babylonian Boundary Stones and Memorial-Tablets in the 

British Museum, London, 1918, PI. LIV 

Reproduced by permission of the Trustee* of the British Museum 

XXV. Fig. I. Prism Containing in Ten Columns the Annals op 

Ashurbanapal, King of Assyria (Gl>S-62G b.c.) 174 

Fio. 2. Clay Clyinder, Containing the Account of Cyrus' 
Capture op Babylon (539 b.c.) 174 

Rassam, Asshur and the Land of Nimrod, Curts and Jennings, 

Cincinnati, 1897, facing pages 21 8 and 268 

XXVI. Fio. 1. Stele op Ashurnasirpal III, King op Assyria (883- 

859 b.c.) 178 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2d Series, Murray, London, 

1863, PL 4 

Fig. 2. Stele or Esarhaddon, King of Assyria (680-669 
b.c.) with Two Royal Prisoners, Tirhaka, King op 
Ethiopia, and Ba'alu, Kino op Tyre 178 

Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli t W. Speman, Berlin, 1893, vol. i, 


XXVII. Terra-cotta Votive Images of the God Enlil and op His 

Consort Ninlil (Nippur) 188 

Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, Sunday School 
Times Co., Philadelphia, 1907, p. 194 

XXVIII. Fig. 1. The God Marduk in Conflict with the Monster 

Tiamat, the Symbol op Primeval Chaos. . 211 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2d Series, PL 5 
Fig. 2. Procession of Gods, Mounted on Animals with 
Which They Were Symbolically Associated; Rock 
Sculpture at Malthiyeh in the Mountains op Kur- 
distan, Two Days North of Mosul 211 

Place, Ninive et VAssyrie, PI. 45 

XXIX. Fig. 1. Nabu, thb Chief Deity op Borsippa 218 

Budge and King, A Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiq- 
uities of the British Museum, (2d ed.) London, 1908. p. 31 
Reproduced by pemunion of the Trustees of the British Museum 

Fio. 2. Isutar as the Mother Goddess. 218 

Koldewey, Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa, Hinricha, 
Leipzig, 1911, Fig. 13 

Fig. 3. Ishtar as the Goddess op War. Rock Sculpture 
in the Zagros Mountains, with Votive Inscription op 
Anubanint, King op the Lulubi (c. 2400 b.c), to Whom 

the Goddess is Bringing Prisoners of War 218 

de Morgan, Mission Scientifique en Perse, Leroux, Paria {1894- 
1901) vol. iv, PL IX, and J as trow, Bildermappe rur Religion 
Bahyloniens und Assyriens, Tdpelmann, Giessen, 1912, No. 24 

XXX. Fig. 1. Marduk, the Chief Deity of Babylon 223 

Fig. 2. Adad, the God op Storms 223 

Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orientgcsellschafl, No. 5, pp. 12-15 

XXXI. Fig. 1. Ashur (?), the Chief Deity of Assyria 229 

Meyer, Sumerier und Semiten in BabyUmien, Berlin, 1906, PL VI 

Figs. 2 and 3. Winged Discs as Symbols of the God Ashur, 

Originally a Sun Deity, but as the Head of the 

Assyrian Pantheon, Also a God op'War 229 

Jastrow, Bildermappe eur Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, 
Tdpelmann, Giessen 1912, No. 49 and 50a 



XXXII. Fig. 1. Types of Demons 241 

Fig. 2. Human-headed Lion, a Type of Monstrous Being 

Akin to the Demons 241 

W. A. Mansell & Co., London, Photographs of Assyrian Antiqui- 
ties in the British Museum, Part III, No. 461 

XXXIII. Assyrian King Worshipping the Tree of Life, Accom- 

panied by Winged, Semi-divine Beings as Guardians and 
Fertilizer* of the Tree. The Scene is Symmetrically 
Repeated. Above the Tree is the Winged Disc as the 

Symbol of the God Ashur 265 

Lavard, Monuments of Nineveh, 1st Series, Murray, London 
1849, PI. 25 

XXXIV. Diorite Stele, Containing the Code of Hammtjrapi (c. 2123- 

2081 b.c), with Picture of the King in Attitude of 
Adoration Before Shamash, the Sun-god, Who is the 

God of Law and Justice 284 

Delegation en Perse, Mimoires, vol. iv, (Leroux, Paris, 1902) PI. 4-5 

XXXV, The First Eight Columns of the Code of Hammurapi . 287 

Diligation en Perse, Mimoires, vol. iv, Leroux, Paris, 1902, PL 4-5 

XXXVI. Fig. 1. Legal Tablet with Seal, Records? Sal* jf \ 
Portion of a House and Dated in the 13th Year or n. 

f Babylonia (c. 20S0-2043 B.C.) 66i 

Figs. 2 and 3, Specimens of Seal Impressions on Legal 

and Commercial Tablets 334 

1 1 ,. 4. Nail Marks on Legal Tablet, as Substitute for 

Seal. . 334 

Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, vol. vi, 
2, PI. VII; vol. vi, 1, PI. IV; vol. viii, 1, PI. IV; vol, viii, 1, PL V 

XXXVII. Fig. 1. Dragon as Symbol of the God Marduk; Colored, 

Glazed Tiles on the Gate of Ishtar in Babylon 370 

Fig. 2. Bull ab Symbol of TnE God Ad ad (?); Colored, 

Glazed Tiles on the Gate of Ishtar in Babylon 370 

Kuli'Iewcy, Das Wittier Erslehende Babylon, Hinrichs, Leipzig, 
1913, Fig. 30 and 31 

XXXVIIL Fig. 1. Restoration of the Temple of the God Ninib in 

Babylon 372 

Fig. 2. Plan of the Temple of the Goddess Nin-Makh 
r ("The Great Lady"), i. e., Ishtar of Babylon — ...... 372 

Koldewey, Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippu, Hinrichs, 
Leipzig, 1911, Fig. 25 and PI. Ill 

XXXIX. Fig. 1. Restoration of Zikkurats or Stage-towers of 

the Anu-Adad Temple at Ashur. , 376 

Andrae, Der Anu-Atlad Tempel, Hinrichs, Ix»ip*ig 1909, PL VIII 
Fig. 2. Mohammedan Tower at Samarra on the Tigris 

(9th Century ad. ) 376 

Herzfeld, Samarra, Behrend & Co., Berlin, 1907, PL 3 

XL. Fig. 1. Shapes of Babylonian Coffins of the Older 

Periods 379 

Jastrow, Bildermappe zur Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, 
Topelmann, Giessen 1912, No. 115 

Fig. 2. Assyrian Grave Vault 379 

Mitteilungen der Deutschen OrientgeseUschaft, No. 27, p. 29 

XLI. Fig. 1. Specimens of Babylonian Pottery 381 

Dtcouvertes en Chaldte, PL '12 

Fig. 2. Shapes of Pottery from Bismya 381 

Banks, Bismya, Putnam's, New York, 1912, p. 349 



XLII, Figs. 1 and 2. Votive Statuettes or Clay 382 

Croe, Hcuaey and Thureau-Dangin, NouvelUa FouUles de Tello, 
Leroux, Paris, 1910, PL VII, Nos. 7 and 8 

Fig. 3. The God Ningirsu and His Consort Bau 383 

Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 25, No, 5 

XLIII, Fio. 1. Babylonian Goddess with Uplifted Hands 383 

Dtcowerks en Chaldie, PL 40, No. 2 

Fig. 2. Votive Tablet or Ub-Enlil (c. 3000 B.C.), Found 

at Nippur 383 

Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania. I. 2, 

XLTV, Fio. 1. Goddess Seated on Bird 384 

Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, Series 
D, vol. i, p. 474 

Fig. 2. Sumerian Chief 384 

Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 1, No. 1 

XLV. Fig. 1. Procession of Warriors 385 

Fig. 2. Limestone Bas-relief, Representing a Religious 

Ceremony 385 

Dicouverles en Chaldie, PL 47, No. 1 and PL 23 

■» »*» . „ tio. 1. Ur-Nina, King of Lagasq (c. 3000 B.C.), and His 

Family 386 

Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PI. 2bia, No. 1 

Flo. 2. The Goddess Ninsun 386 

Jaetrow, Biidermappe tur Religion Babyloniens und Aasyriena, 
Topelmann, Giessen, 1912, No. 21 

XLVII, Fragments of the "Stele of Vultures" 387 

Fig. 1. Marching Army of Eannatum, Ruler of Lagash 

(c. 2920 B.C.). 
Fig. 2. The God Ningirsu, Capturing the Enemies of 

Lagahh in his Net. 
Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 3bia and 4bis 

XLVIII, Fragments of the "Stele of Vultures" 388 

Fig. 1. Heads of Enemies Being Carried Off by Vultures 
Fig. 2. Burial of Soldiers of Eannatum, Ruler of Lagash 

(c. 2920 b.c.) 
Fio. 3. The Conflict Between Lagash and Umma. 
Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 3 

XLLX, Fig. 1. Heraldic Design of Lagash- Votive Plaque 390 

Fondalion Eugbne Plot, Monuments et Mimoires, Leroux, Paris, 
1894, vol. i, PL II; also Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 5 bis No. 2 
Fig. 2. Fragment ok a Stele Depicting a Conflict with 

an Enemy 390 

Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 3bia, No. 3a 

L. Fio. 1. Stele of Nabam-Sin, King of Agade (c. 2550 b.c). . . 393 
Dttigation en Perse, Memairea. {Leroux, Paris 1898) vol. i, PL IX 

Fio. 2. Bas-relief of Naram-Sin, King of Agade 393 

Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, I, 2, 

LI. Fio. 1. Diorite Statue of a Woman. 395 

Dicouvertea en Chaldie, PL 24bis, No. 2a 

Fio. 2. Doo with Attachment of Later Date (?) ; Votive 

Offering of King Sumulailu (a 2211-2176 b.c.) 395 

Croa, Heuzey et Thureau-Dangin, Nouvclka Fouillea de Tello, 
Leroux, Paris 1910, PL V 


LH. Figs, 1, 2 and 3. Heads of Lions. 396 

Dicouvtrtes en Chaldie, PL 25bis, Nos. la, 4 and 5 
LIII. Figs. 1 and 2. Human-headed Bulls, one with Inlaid 

Shell* to Indicate .Streaks , . 39S 

Fondation Eugene Piot, Monument* ei Mimoires, Leroux, Paris, 
1899, vol. vi, PL XI, and vol. vii, (Paris, 1900,) PL I 

LTV\ Fio. 1. Sphinxes in Hittite Aet, Showing BABYLONIAN- 

Figures, and Relationship to Winged Creatures in 

Assyrian Art 400 

AusgrabungeninSendschirti, Reimer, Berlin, 191 1, vol. iv, PL LVI 
Fig. 2. Assyrian Army Attacking a Fort, from the Palace 

of Saroon, Kino of Assyria (721-706 b.c.) 4C0 

Botta et Flandin, Monument de Ninive, PL 6Sbie 

LV. Fio. 1. Ashurnasirpal III, Kino of Assyria (883-859 B.C.) 

Hunting Lions 402 

Fio. 2. Ashurnasirpal Pourino Libation Over Wild Bull 

Killed in the Chase 402 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 1st Series, Murray, London 
1849, PL 10 and 12 

LVI. Fig. 1. Attendants Carrying Throne (Khorsabad) 403 

Fio. 2. Transporting Wood Across a Stream (khorsabad) 408 
Botta et Flandin, Monument de Ninive, PL 17 and 34 


Botta et Flandin, Monument de Ninive, PL 41 

L.VIII. Kino Sennacherib of Assyria (705-681 b.c) Receiving 

Captives at Lachibh (Palestine) 406 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2d Series, Murray, London 1853, 
PL 23 

LIX. Transporting Colossal Figure op a Winged Bull, Palace 

op Sennacherib at Nineveh 406 

Layard, Monuments of Ninci>e)i, 2d Series, PL 13 

LX. Fio. 1. Dying Lioness 407 

Fig. 2. Attendants Carryino Nets for the Chase, and 

Leading Dogs 407 

W. A. Mansell & Co., LoDdon, Photographs of Assyrian Antiq- 
uities in the British Museum, Part III, Nos. 462 and 504 

UQ. Fig. 1. Battle Scene, Conflict Between Assyria and 

Elam in the Reign op King Abhurbanapai . 408 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2d Series, PL 45 

Fig. 2. Assyrian Army and Captives 408 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2d Series, PL 48 

LXII. King Ashurbanapal of Assyria (668-626 b.c.) with His 

Queen <09 

W. A. Mansell it. Co., London, Photographs of Assyrian Antiq- 
uities in the British Museum, Part III, No. 5226 and 522c 

LXIII. Votive Offerings (Copper) from Tellob (Laqash) 410 

Dicouvtrtes en Chaldie, PL 28 

LXTV. Fig. 1 . Votive Statuettes (Copper) 410 

Fig. 2. Statuette, with Flat Rino Attachment 410 

Decouvertes en Chaldie, PL Ibis, Nos. 3 to 7, and PL 2bis, No, 3 



LXV. Fig, 1. Bronze Dm 411 

Fondatwn Eughte Piot, Monuments H M (moires, Leroux, Paris, 
1900, vol. vii, H. 1 

Fig. 2. Goat with Crumpled Horns (Copper) 41 J 

Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, Series 
D, vol. i, p. 540 

LXVI. Figs. 1 and 2. Bronze Plaque (Obverse 
Showing Exorcising Ceremony. 
Revue Archeotogiquc 1879, p. 337 

and Reverse), 


LXVII. Fig 1. Babylonian Bronze Bell (Berlin Museum) 413 

Fio. 2. Demons on Bronze Bell 413 

Jasbrow, BUdermappe ear Religion Babuloniens und Assyriens, 
Topelmann Giessen, 1912, Nos. 70 and 70o 

LXVni. Fios. 1 and 2. Bronze Coverings op Gates op an Assyr- 
ian Palace at Balawat, Depicting Scenes in the Cam- 
paigns op Shalmaneser 111, Kino on Assyria (858-S24 b.c.) 414 
Birch and Pinches, The Bronze Ornaments of the Palace Gates of 
Balawat, Society of Biblical Archaeology, London, 18S0, PI. A. 1 
and C. 3 

LXLX, Figs, 1 and 2. Bronze Coverings or Gates op an Assyria I 
Palace at Balawat, Showing King Shalmaneser III 
Receiving Prisoners; Cavalry and Infantry op the Assyr- 
ian Army, Charioteers, and Barbarous Treatment op 
the Captured Enemy 415 

Birch and Pinches, The Bronze Ornaments of the Palace Gates of 

BalaiMt, PL D 3 and D 4 

LXX. Figs. 1 and 2. Assyrian Bronze Bowls op the 8th Cen- 
tury b.c 416 

Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 1st Series, Murray, Loudon, 1849 
PI. 60 and 63 

LXX1. Fig. 1. Silver Vase op Entemena, Ruler op Laoash (c. 

2S50 b.c.) 417 

Decouvertes en ChaLlee, PI. 43bis 

Fig, 2. Libation Vase op Green Stone 417 

Decouvertes en Chaldee, PI. 44, No. 2u-c and Heuzey, Catalogue 
des AntiquiUs Ckaldecnnes du Musee National du Louvre. Paris 
1902, No. 125 

LXXIL Figs, 1 and 2. Symbols op the Gods on Babylonian Boun- 
dary Stones 419 

King, Babylonian Boundary Stones and Memorial-Tablets in the 
British Mvseum, London, 1912, PI. LXX VI and LXXVII 
Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum 

LXXIII. Figs. I and 2. Winged and Non-winged Hippocentaurs 

un Babylonian Boundary Stones 419 

L. \V. King, Babylonian Boundary Stones and Memorial-Tablets 

in the British Museum, London, 1912, PL XXIX 

Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum 

LXXIV. Figs. 1, 2 and 3. Engravlng on Bone and Shells 420 

Decouvertes en Cliaidee, PL 46, Nos. 2, 3, and 5 


LXXV. Babylonian and Assyrian Seal Cylinders 423 

Fio. 1. Man and Woman Drinking Through Tubes, Prob- 
ably a Sacrificial Scene. 

Jastrow, BUdermappe tar Religion Babylonienn und Assyrians, 

Topelmann, Giessen, 1912, No. 125 

Fig. 2. Monstrous Being (with Head op Enkidu, the 
Companion op Gilgamesh), Fighting a Lion— Symmetri- 
cally Repeated. 

W. H. Ward, Cylinders and Other Ancient Seals in the Library of 

J. Pierpont Morgan, N. Y., 1909, No. 44 

Fig. 3. The Sun-god Shamash, with Divine Attendants. 

Morgan Collection, No. 60 

Fig. 4. Gilgamesh, Fighting Lion — Symmetrically Re- 

King, History of Sumer and Akkad, Chatto & Windus, London, 

1910, facing p. 76 

LXXVI. Fig. 1. Contests with Wild Beasts 425 

King, History of Swner and Akkad, facing p. 76 

Fig. 2. Winged Seml-divine Being Before The Tree of 

Life— Symmetrically Repeated 425 

Morgan Collection. No. 159 

Fig. 3. Winged Being, Plucking the Fruit of the Tree 

of Life 425 

Morgan Collection, No. 160 

Fig. 4. Conflict with the Dragon Tiamat 425 

Morgan Collection, No. 154 

LXXVII. Fig. 1. Shamash, the Sun-god, Stepping Forth Over the 
Mountain to Pass Through the Gate of Sunrise— 
Symmetrically Repeated 426 

Morgan Collection. No. 70 

Fig. 2. Sin, the Moon-god, Receiving a Worshipper Led 
by a Goddess, Probably the Consort of Sin. Inscrip- 
tion of the Days of Ur-Engur, King of Ur (c. 2450 B.C.) 426 

Clay, Ligtd on the Old Testament from Babel, Sunday School 

Times, Philadelphia, 1907, p. 199 

Fig. 3. Seal of a Babylonian Physician 426 

Dtcouvcrtes en Chaldie, PI. 30bis 

Fig. 4. Divine Beings, Seated Before the Tree of Life, 
with Serpent Behind the Female Figure 426 

Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, p. 83 

LXXVm. Fig. 1. Third Tablet of the Babylonian Story op Creation 430 
King, Seven Tablets of Creation, Luzac & Co., London, 1902, vol. 
ii, frontispiece 
Fig. 2. Portion of the Babylonian Story of the Deluge, 

Forming the Eleventh Tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic. . 430 
Rassam, Asshur and the Land of Nimrod, Curts and Jennings, 
Cincinnati, 1897, facing p. 34 



The land to which we are led in the exposition of this 
subject lies thousands of miles away and the time with 
which we are concerned lies thousands of years behind 
us. The question may, therefore, properly be asked, 
what is our interest in the civilization that flourished in 
the Euphrates Valley as early, at least, as 3500 years be- 
fore our era, and that spread northwards into the region 
lying along the banks of the Tigris as early as 2500 B.C., 
if not earlier. 1 

In the case of Babylonia and Assyria, the very re- 
moteness of the theme, of the place, and of the time con- 
stitute three reasons why its history, culture, and re- 
ligion should be of real interest to us, for the past, and 

1 See the accompanying map. Babylonia is the name given to 
the southern portion, Assyria to the northern portion. For the 
oldest period, Sumer and Akkad may be used as designations of the 
southern and northern sections of the Euphrates Valley, while Chal- 
dea represents an early name for a part of the southern section 
which, owing to the accidental circumstance that the. latest dynasty 
of Babylonia — the so-called neo-Babylonian period (G25 to the 
advent of Cyrus in 539 B.C.) — came from Chaldea,led Roman writers 
to use this term for the whole region, i.e., for Babylonia and Assyria, 
Mesopotamia, the land "between the rivers," properly applies only 
to the section included between the Euphrates and Tigris from their 
junction northwards. It is, therefore, an inaccurate designation for 
Babylonia and Assyria, since it does not include the Euphrates 


more particularly the remote past, exercises an intense 
fascination upon us — a fascination due to the conviction, 
deep-seated within us, that whereas we belong to the 
present, the past belongs to us. The history of mankind 
is a continuous series of links, forming, as Herder 
phrased it, the " golden chain of culture." Each civili- 
zation as it arises is the heir of the ages that have gone 
before, every phase of human culture stands in some con- 
nection with the preceding phase. Our American civili- 
zation is an offshoot of European culture to which we 
have made some contributions. The culture of Western 
and Northern Europe represents the extension of Ro- 
man civilization. Rome owes its intellectual timulusto 
Greece, whose heir she became, and Greek culture, as we 
know, rests on a substratum of Asiatic influence and em- 
bodies elements derived from Egypt and Babylonia as 
well as from Asia Minor ; and even when we pass to the 
distant East, the chain is not broken. Persia looks back 
to India, as Japan to China. Through Buddhism the 
connection is established between Chinese and Hindu 
civilization, and there are good reasons for believing 
that a direct cultural influence came to China from 
India at a period even earlier than the introduction of 
Buddhism, while the evidence, though not yet complete, 
is increasing which indicates that both the Chinese 
and Hindu civilizations lie within the sphere of influ- 
ences emanating from such far older cultural centres as 
the Valley of the Euphrates and the Valley of the Nile. 

In studying the past we are, therefore, in reality 
studying ourselves, we are concerned with something 
that is not remote, but on the contrary with something 
that is quite close to us — with flesh of our flesh and bone 
of our bone. It is this direct interest in the past as a part 
of ourselves that underlies the remarkable activity un- 
folded in Europe and in our own country in the task of 
recovering the remains of the past, so long hidden under 
the soil. Everywhere — in Greece and Italy, in Asia 
Minor and India, in Palestine and Syria, in Egypt and 


babylonia the spade of the explorer has been busy 8 re- 
vealing the vestiges of ancient civilizations — revealing 
in many eases the entirely forgotten annals of mankind 
and enabling us to replace dimmed traditions by clearly 
ascertained facts, to sift legend and myths from actual 
historical occurrence, to reconstruct, in short, the 
earlier periods of that endeavor of mankind to rise 
superior to its surroundings which we call intellectual, 
social and religious progress. 

But apart from the antiquity of Babylonia and 
yria, there are certain circumstances which invest 
the region of the Euphrates and Tigris with a special 
kind of Merest Time-honored tradition places here not 
only the Beginnings of civilization but also the cradle of 
the human race. The Garden of Eden is a section of 
Babylonia, as is sufficiently attested by the express men- 
tion of the Tigris and Euphrates as two of the rivers 
which flowed through the primeval habitation of man- 
kind ; and though the story of Adam and Eve is devoid 
of any historical value, yet the tradition which assigns 
the first human pair to Babylonia is of great significance 
for the prominence which Babylonia must have acquired 
in the minds of the Hebrews, whose religious traditions 
are thus indissolubly bound up with Babylonia, Again, 
even when driven out of the mythical paradise, man does 
not leave Babylonia. The Valley of Shinar in which all 
of mankind is represented as being settled at the time 
of the building of the great tower that should reach to 
heaven, is merely a designation for the southern portion 
of the Euphrates Valley, 3 while the tower itself was sug- 
gested by the zikkurats or stage-towers, which were a 

* See Michaelis, A Century of Archeological Discoveries (Trans- 
lated by Bettina Kahnweilcr, N. T., 1908). 

* Shinar is identical with Sumer — the original force of which 
appears to have been u the land " par excellence. It came in time 
to be the specific designation of the southern part of the VaUey in 
contrast to Akkad as the designation of the northern portion. See 
King, History of Sumer and Akkad, pp. 13-15. 




characteristic feature of the religious architecture of 
Babylonia. 4 In this story, or rather in the two stories in- 
tertwined in the 11th chapter of Genesis, — one the build- 
ing of the city which is given the name of Babylon, and 

e other the building of the tower 6 — the significant f eat- 

*e is the tradition which thus ascribed to the Euphrates 
Valley the distinction of once harboring all mankind in 
addition to being the cradle of the human race. Where 
the cradle of the human race stood is still a problem of 
Ethnology in our days, and is perhaps incapable of 
solution by scientific methods, but the fact that even to 
the ancient Hebrews, the region of the Euphrates and 

igris appeared as the one which had been settled from 
e immemorial favors the hypothesis for which we 
have other evidence, albeit not conclusive, that a high 
order of civilization first developed in that region. Its 
only possible rival is Egypt, and the indications at pres- 
ent are that while the actual beginnings of Egyptian 
civilization may lie further back than the Euphratean 
ulture, yet Babylonia takes precedence in the unfold- 

g of an advanced form of cultural achievements. 
Leaving this question aside for the present and re- 
turning to Biblical traditions, it is also of moment to 
note that the Hebrews traced their wanderings prior to 
their entrance into Palestine to Babylonia, for Ur of the 
Chaldees, whence Terah the father of Abram sets out, is 
a well-known city in Babylonia, and Harran where he 
sojourned is another city farther to the north. There 
is no reason to question the correctness of the tradition 
which traces the Hebrews, or at least one of the groups 
that afterwards formed the combination known by this 
designation, back to Babylonia. As a matter of fact we 
come across traces of the Euphratean civilization at al- 
most every period of Hebrew history. We encounter it 

4 See Jastrow, Aspects of Religi&us Belief and Practice in 
Babylonia and Assyria, p. 289 seq. 

•See an article by the writer on "The Tower of Babel" in 

Independent, vol 57 (1905), pp. 822-826. 





in the language of the Hebrews, in the codes that grew 
up among them, in their art and architecture, in their 
social life, in their political organization, and to a very 
considerable extent in their religious rites and earlier be- 
liefs. The Old Testament is fairly saturated with Baby- 
lonian culture, and even when we reach the time and 
days of the New Testament we have not yet passed be- 
yond the sphere of Babylonian influence. 


A glance at the map will show some of the reasons 
why civilization developed at so early a period in the Eu- 
phrates Valley. The main feature of the region is formed 
by the two streams that water it — the Euphrates and 
Tigris — and bring about the high degree of fertility 
which Herodotus emphasizes. 7 Of these rivers, the Eu- 
phrates — the correct form of which is Purattu and de- 
scribed in texts as u the great river"— is the stream that 
properly belongs to the southern district or Babylonia, 
while the Tigris or more properly Idiklat, pictured 
as 4 * the rapid " stream, is the river of the northern dis- 
trict or Assyria. Both rivers start in the mountain re- 
gions of Armenia, 8 but they are quite diverse in charac- 
ter. The Euphrates is on the whole a quiet and, in parts, 
a sluggish stream. It flows along in majestic dignity, 
and receiving many tributaries on its way while still in 
the mountains, proceeds first in a westerly direction as 
though making directly for the Mediterranean Sea but 
veers suddenly to the southeast, after which it receives 
only a few tributaries until it is joined by the Tigris in 
the extreme south. Of its entire length of 1780 miles it 

•This subject is fully set forth in the writer 'b Hebrew and 
Babylonian Traditions (New York, 1914). 

T Book I, § 193. 

* See Lehmann-Haupt, Die historischc Semiramis und ihre Zeit., 
(Tubingen, 1910), p. 16 seq. 


is navigable for a short distance only, cataracts forming 
a hinderance in the north and, owing to the increasing 
sluggishness of the stream, sand banks in the south. 
As a consequence, it never became at any time an impor- 
tant avenue for commerce, rafts and wicker baskets, 
coated within and without with bitumen, being the only 
method of transportation which was possible under such 

The Tigris, though only 1146 miles long, is quite a 
different stream. After leaving its source in the moun- 
tains, it gains steadily in power, forcing its way through 
rugged clefts. It is joined by numerous tributaries be- 
fore it reaches the plain, its volume being continually 
increased so that even when it reaches the alluvial soil of 
the south, its rapid course is not checked. It flows in 
a slightly fluctuating southerly direction, advances 
towards the Euphrates and recedes from it again until 
at last the two livers join at Kurna and together pour 
their waters as the Shatt el-Arab or "Arabic River*' 
into the Persian Gulf. The Tigris is navigable from 
Diarbekr in the north to its junction with the Euphrates. 
Large rafts can be floated down to Baghdad and small 
steamers can ascend almost up to Mosul The Tigris is, 
therefore, the avenue of commerce for Mesopotamia — to 
use the conventional designation for the country — and 
forms the link that connects Babylonia and Assyria 
through the Persian Gulf with India on the one hand, 
and Egypt and the Red Sea and the Mediterranean dis- 
tricts on the other. The contrast presented by the two 
streams is paralleled by the diverse features distin- 
guishing Assyria, the northern section, from Babylonia, 
the southern section. Assyria, with a length of about 
350 miles and a width ranging from 190 to 300 miles, 1 * 
is shut off to the north, northeast, and northwest 
by mountain ranges and retains for a considerable por- 
tion of its extent, and particularly towards the east, a 

• A total area of some 75,000 square miles, or somewhat smaller 
than the state of Nebraska. 


rugged aspect. The Kurdish Mountains run close to the 
Tigris for some distance below Mosul, though after that 
the region changes its character. Plains without any 
break succeed the hills, the soil becomes alluvial and the 
Tigris and its tributaries, swollen by the rains of winter, 
regularly overflow their banks and submerge entire 
districts. As a consequence of this overflow, to which 
also the united rivers were subject, and which until a 
canal system was perfected was also a source of danger 
to life and brought about much destruction, the 
southern region or Babylonia, with a length of about 
300 miles and a maximum breadth of almost 125 miles, 10 
developed an astounding fertility. According to the 
statement of Herodotus, 11 grain yielded a return of 
"two hundred fold and even up to three hundred fold," 
while "the blade of the wheat plant and the barley 
phrnt is often four fingers in breadth, and the stalks of 
the millet and sesame are surprisingly tall." It would 
appear, indeed, that Babylonia was the home of 
cultivated cereals whence wheat and barley were dis- 
seminated throughout the ancient world. 

The richness of the soil in Babylonia is due to its 
being a deposit made by the rivers after the overflowing 
waters during the rainy season have receded. This 
deposit which is still going on at the average rate of 90 
feet per year may in ancient times have proceeded 
more rapidly, but, at all events, in this increase we 
have a fairly definite standard by means of which 
to determine the age of Babylonian settlements through 
the distance at present separating cities from the 
Persian Gulf that once lay on or near that great body 
of water. So, e.g., a city, Eridu, which we know once 
lay on the Persian Gulf, is now some 130 miles away. 
Taking 90 feet as the average yearly increase, this 
would take us back some 7000 years for the period 

10 A total area of about 23,000 square miles, or about the size of 
West Virginia. 
" Book I, § 193. 



when Eridu still lay on the Persian Gulf. Since it 
is also known that at one time the Euphrates and Tigris 
entered the Persian Gulf independently, it follows that 
the entire district below their present juncture at 
Kurna is land made during the historical period. The 
natural conditions, therefore, such as the presence of 
two rivers that bring about unusual fertility, the fact 
that one of them is an avenue of commerce from the 
extreme north to the Persian Gulf, and that this gulf 
again constitutes a means of access to distant lands, 
explain why this region should have been at so early a 
period the seat of a population which took up agricul- 
ture as a pursuit and imder conditions which with a 
minimum of effort yielded a maximum of sustenance. 

To these conditions there is to be added as a third 
factor the climate, which, although according to our 
views intolerable, is not unhealthy and is precisely of the 
kind suitable for a population that cannot adequately 
protect itself against cold and inclemency. There are 
two seasons in Babylonia — a rainy season, which sets 
in in November and lasts until March or April, when 
the overflow of the rivers begins, which reaches its 
height in May and ceases about the middle of June, 
and a dry season, which lasts from March to November. 
The heat during this season becomes excessive accord- 
ing to European ideas, but it is regarded as pleasant 
by the natives, to whom even the moderate cold of the 
rainy season is decidedly more vexatious. The greater 
part of the year one can thus live in the open air — an 
important item to a people m a primitive state of 


Next to the antiquity of the civilization of the 
Euphrates Valley, perhaps the most astonishing fact 
about it is the disappearance of practically all material 
traces of this civilization and the loss of detailed knowl- 
edge of a period of history extending over a stretch of 


several thousand years. Until a few generations ago 
our knowledge of the history and culture of Babylonia 
and Assyria was limited to references in the Old Testa- 
ment, and to the accounts in Herodotus, to statements 
in Josephus and to Ctesias, and to scattered notices 
in the writings of various Greek and Latin writers. 
Comparatively extensive as this material was, 1 * it was 
yet entirely inadequate for forming an estimate of the 
civilization and for furnishing a historical survey. 
In contrast to Egypt, no picturesque remains sur- 
vived to recall to the wanderer the glory of the past. 
To be sure, the profound impression made upon 
the ancient world by the achievements of Babylonian 
and Assyrian rulers, the great military power that they 
developed, their extensive and remarkable building 
operations — their temples, palaces and gardens — as well 
as the wisdom for which the priests became famous — all 
this never faded out of the memory of the people, but it 
remained to a large extent an impression unsupported 
by sufficient details to enable us to do more than draw a 
very general picture, vague in its outlines and deficient 
in details, of the civilization unfolded thousands of 
years ago. Fanciful exaggerations and uncertain tradi- 
tions took the place of accurate knowledge. 

A country that is favorably situated for the early 
development of culture is also apt to show features that 
lead to rapid decline — when the decline has once set in. 
The overflow of the two rivers as it conditioned and pro- 
moted the remarkable fertility of the region was also, as 
has already been intimated, an annual menace and until 
the introduction of an elaborate canal system, loss of 
property and life accompanied the overflow, which sub- 
merged entire districts for weeks and even months. The 

"Put together by Niebuhr, Gesckickte Assures und Babel's 
(Berlin, 1857). See also Cory, Ancient Fragments (London, 1832), 
for a collection of accounts of Babylonia and Assyria from Greek 
and Latin writers, in part based on a lost work of a *' Chaldean" 
priest Berosus — a contemporary of Alexander the Great. 



picture unfolded in the first chapter of Genesis, which 
represents the primeval chaos before the appearance of 
dry land as a state in which the waters covered every- 
thing, was suggested by the phenomenon which was an- 
nually witnessed throughout a considerable portion of 
Babylonia ; and similarly, the thought that all mankind 
was once annihilated in consequence of a deluge lay near 
to the minds of a people who witnessed such a destruc- 
tive event on a small scale every spring, 

The neglect into which the canal system naturally 
fell after the downfall of Assyria and Babylonia 
brought about an even more lamentable state of affairs 
than that which existed before its institution, for in a 
short time the work which generations had been busy in 
constructing was doomed to destruction. The cities of 
Babylonia and Assyria fell into decay, the process being 
hastened by the material that was used in the construc- 
tion of the buildings. Here again, the existence of so 
admirable a building material as the clay soil of Baby- 
lonia, enabling even untrained workmen to rear huge 
constructions of burnt and unburnt bricks, facilitated on 
the one hand the unfolding of culture in the Euphrates 
Valley, but on the other hand also conduced to the rapid 
destruction of the buildings. The clay structures had to 
be constantly repaired and we learn from the cuneiform 
records of Nebuchadnezzar II, that 45 years of neglect 
sufficed to reduce a temple to a condition bordering on 
complete decay. Clay being the only building material 
for houses, palaces and temples in the south, and the pre- 
vailing one in the north (though here stone was also 
employed in the case of large constructions), it is easy to 
imagine what must have happened during the two thou- 
sand years that elapsed between the desertion of the 
Babylonian and Assyrian cities and the effort to recover 
their remains. The buildings tumbled into shapeless 
ruins, and the winds sweeping the sands across the 
plains completed the destruction, and hid even the 
debris from view. Of the once flourishing cities, one saw 


only huge shapeless mounds 13 — and yet nature, in thus 
covering up the work of man, proved to be a merciful 
destroyer. But for the mounds which formed over the 
sites of ancient cities, the records of the past would have 
been entirely swept away or ruthlessly destroyed. Be- 
neath these mounds were safely preserved, as after- 
wards turned out — priceless documents, inscribed clay 
tablets and cylinders, monuments and sculptures, by 
means of which we are now enabled to rewrite the his- 
tory of Babylonia and Assyria. Monuments and records 
without number that would long ago have fallen a prey 
to marauding Arabs who infested the deserted districts 
were thus kept from certain destruction by the protect- 
ing mounds. 

The recovery of those remains and the reconstruc- 
tion of the history, art, the religion and social life, of 
ancient Babylonia and Assyria, through the study and 
interpretation of this material was the work largely <>1' 
the 19th century, which will always be known as the 
golden age of epochal discoveries in many directions — 
discoveries that have on the one hand profoundly altered 
our views of the universe and modified present condi- 
tions of life, and that have on the other hand enlarged 
our knowledge of the past by the recovery of so many 
pages of the lost annals of mankind. 


That the mounds scattered along the Tigris and in 
the valley of the Euphrates contained ancient remains 

11 Only two ruins in all the district that suggested outlines of 
buildings peered out above these mounds — one at a place called Birs 
Nimrud, and which proved to be the site of the city of Borsippa, 
near Babylon; the other, still further to the south at Akerkuf — 
both representing the remains of a stage tower. Both towers were 
associated by native tradition with the 4i Tower of Babel," which 
story, it will be recalled (see p. 4), was suggested by the high 
stage-towers that formed a characteristic feature of the sacred ar- 
chitecture of Babylonia and Assyria. 


could be concluded from the potsherds and fragments 
of bricks and stones with which the surface was in many- 
cases strewn, or which came to view on penetrating a 
short distance beneath the surface, but the question as 
to the identification of the settlements that once flour- 
ished on the site of those vast rubbish heaps could not 
be answered by such surface examinations. Tradition 
that invar iably survives after accurate knowledge has 
disappeared had connected a scries of mounds opposite 
Mosul with the site of Nineveh, One of these mounds 
bore the name of Nebbi Yunus, i.e., " the prophet 
Jonah," and a little chapel surmounting it is revered by 
the natives as the tomb of the prophet who announced 
the destruction of Nineveh. The tomb is fictitious, but 
the association of Jonah with Nineveh embodies the 
recollection of the fact — as was established by excava- 
tions — that Nebbi Yunus indeed concealed a portion of 
the great capital of Assyria. In the south, some 40 
miles from Baghdad, there was another series of 
mounds, one of which bore the name of Babil — a recol- 
lection of the fact that the great capital of the southern 
empire once stood there. Such were the clues on which 
the early travellers and explorers had to work. 

In the 16th and 17th centuries these and other 
mounds in the region began to attract the attention of 
numerous travellers. Indeed, several centuries previ- 
ous a famous traveller, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela 
(1160 a.d.) made a brief reference in his itinerary 14 to 
the ruins of both Babylon and Nineveh. Passing by 
a number of English travellers, who visited the region 
during the latter part of the 16th century, we come 
to the Italian Pietro della Vaile who early in the 17th 
century made extensive travels in the east, and besides 
furnishing a detailed account of the famous ruins 
at Persepolis and copying a specimen of the cuneiform 

14 First published in 1543 in Constantinople. See M. N. Adler, 
"The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela" {Jewish Quarterly Review, 


inscriptions there, examined the mounds of Babylon and 
Mugheir— the site of Ur — in the Euphrates Valley. He 
was the first to bring back to Europe a few of the in- 
scribed bricks. 15 Among the travellers of the following 
century whose curiosity was aroused by the mounds 
along the Tigris, and in the Euphrates Valley, it is suffi- 
cient for our purposes to mention two, (1) the famous 
Danish scholar Carsten Niebuhr, 10 to whom we owe the 
definite identification of the site of ancient Babylon at 
the mounds near Hillah, and (2) the Abbe de Beau- 
champ, who at the close of the 18th century specified in 
a more detailed fashion than any of his predecessors had 
done, the large extent of the mounds covering the re- 
mains of the city of Babylon. He also speaks of finding 
within the rubbish heaps enamelled bricks, pieces of 
cylinders covered with writing, and bits of statuettes. 

The desire to put a spade into these mounds after it 
had been definitely ascertained that they contained re- 
mains of antiquity must have burned strong in the breast 
of the traveller who allowed his fancy to speculate on 
the nature of the treasures hidden for two millenniums. 

Attempts on a very small scale were made by an Eng- 
lishman, Claudius James Kich, who utilized a residence 
of about thirteen years in the region as the resident 
agent of the East India Company, with his head-quarters 
at Baghdad, to make a thorough study of the mounds of 
Babylon and Nineveh as well as of the topography of the 
entire region from Baghdad to Mosul. This investiga- 
tion far surpassed in its results anything that had pre- 
viously been done. Rich's death in 1821 at the early age 
of thirty-four cut short an activity that included the col- 
lection of such specimens as he was able to secure from 

15 In his "Viaggi" (Rome, 1650), Pietro della Valle reproduces 
some of these inscriptions and gives his reasons why they should 
be read from left to right, in which supposition he was correct. 

19 Niebuhr gave a detailed account of his travels in his Reisebe- 
sckreibung ivach Arabien und andem umligenden Ldndern{ Copen- 
hagen, 1774^1837), 3 vols. 



scratchings in the mounds and through purchase from 
natives who had rummaged them more successfully 
Rich's collections of Babylonian and Assyrian antiqui- 
ties, though not large in comparison with what was soon 
to be secured, were valuable by virtue of their variety — 
revealing the various kinds of objects buried beneath 
the mounds. He published accounts of his researches, 17 
and after his untimely death, the antiquities gathered 
by him, as well as a large collection of oriental 
manuscripts and coins, were purchased by the British 
Museum. In 1827-28 another Englishman, Robert 
Magnan, also in the employ of the East India Company, 
in the course of a careful study of many of the mounds 
in the south, cut trenches into a number of them, chiefly 
with a view of ascertaining their age and character. 
Quite a number of antiquities were discovered, but such 
sporadic attempts counted for little. In 1835-37 an im- 
portant survey of the region of the Euphrates and Tigris 
was undertaken by the English government, but the 
credit of having organized the first excavating expe- 
dition belongs to France. 

The story of how the palaces and temples of Assyria 
and Babylonia with their rich and varied contents were 
brought to view through the untiring energy of a long 
series of explorers, is a most fascinating one. Begin- 
ning in 1842 with the work of P. E. Botta at the mounds 
opposite Mosul and continuing to our own days the great 
museums of Europe and this country — more particu- 
larly the British Museum, the Louvre, the Berlin 
Museum, and the Archaeological Museum of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania, bear witness to the vast mate- 

17 His two Memoirs on the Ruins of Babylon[hondon, 1816-1818) 
were republished in 1839 by his widow, together with Rich r s diaries 
and an account of a journey to Persepolis a few years previous 
under the title Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan and on the 
Site of Ancient Nineveh (London, 1836), 2 vols. 



rial that has been brought together in the space of sev- 
enty years and of which so large a part has now, through 
publications, been placed at the disposal of students. 18 
Botta, appointed consular agent of France at Mosul, 
in 1842, began work late that year on a large mound 
Kouyunjikon the Tigris opposite Mosul, and which, like 
the neighboring heap, Nebbi Yiums, covered a portion 
of the ancient city of Nineveh. In'begroning excavations 
at these large mounds it was at first largely guesswork 
where to dig the first trenches, and it depended upon 
chance whether one's efforts were rewarded with tangible 
results. Botta worked at Kouyunjik for some months 
with only moderate success. Inscriptions and bas- 
reliefs were found, but in a fragmentary condition and 
nothing that appeared to be particularly striking. He 
accordingly, in March, 1843, transferred the scene of his 
operations to a mound Khorsabad, a short distance to 
the north of Kouyunjik, where he was almost immedi- 
ately successful in coming upon two mutilated walls cov- 
ered with sculptured bas-reliefs, accompanied by in- 
scriptions in the ordinary cuneiform character. There 
could be no question that he had actually come across a 
portion of an Assyrian building and ere long a whole 
series of rooms had been unearthed filled with monu- 
ments of the past. The announcement of these discov- 
eries created tremendous excitement, and soon suffi- 
cient funds were placed at Botta's disposal to enable him 
to carry on his work on a large scale. An artist, E, 
Flandin, was dispatched to sketch the monuments that 
could not be removed and to draw plans of the excava- 
tions. By October, 1844, a large portion of the palace — 
for such the edifice turned out to be — had been excavated, 
revealing an almost endless succession of rooms, the 

*• For detailed accounts of excavations at Babylonia and Assy- 
rian mounds, the reader is referred to Rogers' History of Babylonia 
and Assyria (New York, 1900), vol. i, pp. 1-174; to Hilpreeht, Ex- 
ploration in Bible Lands, (Phila,, 1903), pp. 1-577; and to Fossey, 
Manuel d'Assyriologie, vol. i (Paris, 1904). 



walls of which were covered with sculptured bas-reliefs. 
These sculptures were of the most various character. 
Long processions of marching soldiers alternated with 
scenes illustrative of life in military camps — showing 
the horses, chariots and tents and the method of attack 
upon the enemy — the approach to the walls, the actual 
conflict, the capture of a town, and the carrying away of 
captives. Hunting scenes were represented in equally 
elaborate fashion, showing the king in his chariot, sur- 
rounded by his attendants. 

Lions were depicted in the act of being let out of 
their enclosures, or attacked by the royal hunter. There 
followed a procession of servants carrying the dead 
lions, as well as game of a smaller character. A notable 
feature of the excavations were the huge winged bulls 
with human heads that were found at the entrances 
leading to the great halls. The bodies of these bulls 
were covered with cuneiform inscriptions which when 
they came to be deciphered told in general outlines of 
the achievements of the monarch who had erected this 
large palace for himself, namely, Sargon II, who ruled 
over Assyria from 725 to 706 B.C. As much of the vast 
material as possible was placed on rafts and floated 
down the Tigris to Basra whence it was safely carried 
by a French man-of-war to Havre. The antiquities 
were brought to the Louvre, while the detailed results of 
the expedition were set forth in Ave large folio volumes 
containing the drawings of Flandin, no less than 400 
plates, with detailed descriptions by Botta. 18 

The great value of the remarkable discoveries stimu- 
lated further interest in France; in 1851 a second 
expedition was fitted out by a vote of the French As- 
sembly. This expedition, which extended its labors to 
mounds in the south, was placed under the leadership 
of Victor Place, a trained architect, who had been ap- 
pointed Botta 's successor as consular agent in Mosul. 

ia P, E. Botta et E. Flandin, Monument de Ninive (Paris, 1849- 
1850), 5 vols. 


Place's architectural skill enabled him to carry on 
le work more systematically, and demonstrated the 
advantage of having an architect to conduct b: ti ons 
of ancient buildings. He unearthed many mora moms 
of the palace, and passing beyond this building, came 
across a number of large gates, decorated with enam- 
elled tiles in brilliant colors forming ornamental de- 
signs, and pictures of fantastic animals. The large 
courts of the palace were laid bare and several smaller 
buildings which, as was subsequently ascertained, 
represented temples/ Large quantities of pottery and 
objects of stone, of glass and metals were found, as 
well as iron implements in an excellent state of preser- 
vation, and even the magazine in which the colored tiles 
were stored. In an elaborate publication, 80 Place em- 
bodied the results of his successful labors, on the basis 
of which he attempted to reconstruct the greater por- 
tion of the edifices he had unearthed. The mounds at 
Khorsabad, it thus resulted, represented a fortified 
town erected by Sargon II, and which was known as 
Dur-Sharrukin, i.e., "Port Sargon," as we may render 
the term. Surrounded by walls with eight gates, the 
site covered an area of some 750 acres. The central 
building was the royal residence, erected on a high 
terrace and surrounded by a number of smaller build- 
ings for the use of the royal court. The building ma- 
terial was stone for the exterior walls, and in part for 
the floors, but for the greater part of the structure 
baked and unbaked bricks, which constituted the 
ordinary material used in the buildings of Babylonia 
and Assyria, were employed. 

Place also extended his excavations to other mounds 
not far from Mosul, such as Kaleh-Shergat (the site 
of the ancient city of Ashur) and Nirnrud (the site 
of Calah) besides carefully examining many other 
mounds, but without the same success that attended his 

10 Victor Place, Ninive et VAsayrie, avec des Essais de Re&taura* 
tion par Felix Thomas (Paris, 1867-1870), 3 vols. 


and Botta's efforts at Khorsabad. Unfortunately the 
antiquities selected by Place for shipment to Paris were 
lost through the sinking of the two boats on which they 
were placed. Drawings and copies had, however, been 
made of all of them, so that the loss to science was not 
as great as it might have been. At the same time 
another French expedition under the leadership of 
Fresnel was busy conducting excavations in the south 
on one of the mounds that covered the city of Babylon, 
and which lasted until 1855. Before, however, taking up 
an account of the excavations on mounds in Babylonia, 
we must consider work done simultaneously with 
Place's excavations at Khorsabad by an English ex- 
plorer who was destine d»to acquire even greater renown 
than either Botta, Flandin, or Place. 


This was Sir Austen Henry Layard, who was 
knighted for his services to archaeology and to diplo- 
macy. 21 During a prolonged series of travels in the 
east, Layard had, as early as 1840, visited the mounds 
near Mosul and indulged the hope of some day carrying 
on excavations in that region. It was not, however, 
until the autumn of 1845 that, with the help of a small 
fund placed at his disposal by Sir Stratford Canning, 
the British ambassador at Constantinople, he was 
enabled to begin excavations on a small scale at the 
mound Nimrud, which he selected because it was 
sufficiently removed from Mosul to enable him to carry 
on his work without attracting too much attention. AI 
that he had hoped to do with the small sum at his dis 
posal was to furnish the proof of the existence o.^ 
buildings and antiquities beneath the mound, and thei 
to rely upon the interest aroused to secure furthe 
grants as well as an official firman from the Turkis! 


u See his autobiographical narrative, Early Adventures in Per sin 
xmana and Babylonia (2d ed., London, 1894), 2 vols. 


ute chance 
• *» in the i 

On th* vw > irst day of the excavations 
two rooms lined with lime- 
iwcst corner of the mound, 

the west side. The rooms, 
liferent buildings, both, as 

royal palaces. Gradually 
•ers, he carried on his work 
wing to the opposition of 

* of sufficient financial sup- 
ted him by the authorities 

• was, however, enabled to 
k :• ; illy until the summer of 
fete •' not only unearthed many 
\*> lc«6 live palaces tit Nimrud, 

essful in the extensive 

isul, where he unearthed 

nensions, erected by King 

rk was done on the so-called 
as the joint work of Ashur- 

•■ - - •" Li.c. j »ad of Saigon 11 (721-706 
) the palaces at Nimrud and 

at Kanyu: ik yielded an astonishingly 
vered with bas-reliefs, be- 

wir . or winged lions with human 

heads that stood at the entrances to the halls. The bas- 
reliefs showed the same large variety of scenes as those 
found at Khorsabad. In the palace of King Ashur- 
nasirpalat Nimrud, or to give the ancient name Calah, 
the monarch had hie artists picture his military expedi- 
tions in detail. Most vividly the army is portrayed 
crossing a river, or in the midst of the fray and on the 
victorious return march. The hunting expeditions of 
the monarch were likewise represented in a long series 
of sculptures. In a palace occupying the central part 
of the mound, erected by Shalmaneser III (858-824 
B.C.) and Tiglathpileser IV (745-727 B.C.) a particu- 
larly striking monument was discovered, which still 



<q*VT?T A 

forms one of the show p' 
This was a completely p 
stone, covered with ftv 
around the four sides 
of the monument w? 
cuneiform inscription ' ie niom 
King Shalmaneser I 
ploits during thirty-* 
therefore by the kir i wif a 
death, and perhaps 
reign was approach 
represent the king 
conquered by him. 
a different people 
the heads of the g 
It can well b 
interest in Assyj 
large selection o< 

colossal winged figures, arrived at t. British Museun 
This interest was still further increased by the public i- 
tion of Layard's fascinating narrative 23 in which, 
despite the fact that he was unable to read the inscrip- 
tions discovered by him, he succeeded, by virtue of his 
ingenuity, in piecing together an interpretation of the 
bas-reliefs, and aided by Si]* Henry Rawlinson's read- 
ings, of the names of the royal builders of the palaces, 
could convey some idea of the historical facts revealed 
by the monuments. Though obliged to cover up again 
many of the monuments and inscriptions which he could 
not transport, he made drawings of the sculptures 23 as 
best he could and copied the inscriptions, 2 * and in this 

22 Nineveh and its Remains (London, 1849). 

** He published, in 1841), a first series of Monuments of Nineveh 
from Drawings Made on the Spot (100 plates). 

24 In 1851 there appeared a volume by him of Inscriptions in the 
Cuneiform Character from Assyrian Monuments, consisting of 98 
plates. Considering that he was unable to read the inscriptions, hia 
copies are remarkably good — a monument to his skill a 


and patience. 



way placed a large amount of valuable material, which 
would otherwise have been hopelessly Inst, at the dis- 
posal of students. The direct result of the great interest 
awakened by Layard *s marvellous discoveries was the 
organization of a far better equipped second expedition, 
enabling him to spend the years 1849-1851 at Nimrud 
and Kouyunjik. Already in his first expedition he had 
chosen a native Christian , Hormuzd Rassam, whose 
brother was the English vice-consul at Mosul, as his 
companion, Rassam, who was destined to win consider- 
able renown by his own work as an explorer, accom- 
panied Layard, on his second expedition likewise, and 
on Layard 's departure in 1852, continued the excava- 
tions till 1854. A skilful artist, P. Cooper, was also ap- 
pointed a member of the party, for the purpose of 
making careful drawings of everything that could not 
be removed. Work was undertaken simultaneously at 
the two mounds, Kouyunjik and Nimrud. The more 
important discoveries this time were made at the former 
site. The palace of Sennacherib was thoroughly ex- 
plored, revealing some hundreds of sculptured bas- 
reliefs, illustrating the campaigns and hunting expedi- 
tions of this ruler. A still more extensive palace, built 
by the greatest of all Assyrian rulers, Ashurbanapal 
(668-626 b.c), whose name was distorted by Greek 
writers to Sardanapalus and who appears in the Old 
Testament as Asnapper (Ezra 4, 10). Apart from the 
usual bas-reliefs and huge winged bulls and a large 
number of inscriptions, including cylinders furnishing 
the details of his many campaigns, Layard found in 
this palace two rooms tilled with many thousand frag- 
ments of clay tablets which proved to be a royal library 
collected by the king with the avowed purpose of stor- 
ing in his palace the literary productions of Babylonia, 
as well as the official archives — letters and reports — of 
the Assyrian empire. Subsequent supplementary ex- 
cavations increased the number of tablets to about 
30,000, which now constitute one of the most valuable 



treasures of the British Museum. These clay tablets 
form our main source of Babylonian literature, sin< 
large proportion of the texts represent copies made by 
Ashurbana pal's scribes of originals from the temple 
archives of the great centres iu the south, notably 
Babylon and Borsippa. The most extensive branch of 
literature represented in the collection was formed by 
the divination eompends of the Babylonian priests — 
covering handbooks of divination in connection with 
the examination of livers of sacrificial sheep as a means 
of forecasting the future, astrological handbooks, col- 
lections of birth-omens, of animal omens, of dreams, 
and of miscellaneous divination texts based on phenom- 
ena observed in rivers, occurrences in houses, streets 
and cities. Another large division of the collection is 
formed by the incantation texts, detailing the formulae, 
the symbolical rites and medicinal prescriptions to 
drive the demons of disease out of the bodies of victims 
or to counteract the influence of witches and sorcerers. 
Incantations lead on the one hand to medical texts of a 
purer type, more or less divorced from sacred f orniula?, 
and on the other hand to prayers, hymns, and peni- 
tential rituals. Myths and legends are represented, in- 
cluding creation stories, as well as an extensive epic re- 
counting the achievements of a national hero, Gilga- 
mesh, whose exploits are brought into connection 
with all kinds of tales that had an independent origin. 
Partly of Babylonian origin, and partly representing 
additions made by Assyrian scribes is the text-book 
literature, 25 consisting of elaborate sign lists of various 
kinds, compiled as a means of instruction for the young 
aspirants to the priesthood, grammatical paradigms, 
exercises in the legal formula used in commercial and 
legal documents, commentaries to texts, and school 
editions of literary productions. Though the great im- 
portance of this find was immediately recognized by 

M See Jastrow, "The Textbook Literature of Babylonia "(BtMtcoZ 
World, vol. ix, pp. 248-268). 


Layard, it was only when Sir Henry Rawlinson, Edwin 
Norris, and George Smith, the latter an assistant in 
the British Museum, began to classify, edit and study 
the texts of the library that its real character was 
determined- To-day, some sixty years after the 
finding of the library, its study is still far from being 
exhausted. 26 

At Niinrud, Layard *s chief discoveries consisted in 
unearthing the remains of a stage tower and of two 
small temples erected by Ashurnasirpal HI (883-859 
B.C.) built of sun-dried bricks, covered with plaster. In 
both temples, clay images of deities, bas-reliefs and in- 
scribed slabs, were found. One of these slabs measured 
almost twenty-two feet, and was covered with closely 
written cuneiform characters. Through this inscrip- 
tion and through a large monolith of Ashurnasirpal 
foimd in the second temple, we have an almost exhaust- 
ive record of the exploits of this ruler — which means a 
history of the times in which he lived. A large statue 
of the king was also found in one of the temples. /Con- 
tinuing the excavations in the palace of this king at 
Nimrud, Layard was fortunate enough, in the course 
of the second expedition, to come across a large number 
of objects in copper and bronze, shields, helmets, 
swords, daggers, twelve large cauldrons filled with 
smaller vessels and miscellaneous objects, a variety of 
iron instruments, hammers, saws, spears, a number of \ 
beautifully embossed bronze plates, and more the like. 
The epigraphical material was also considerably en- 
riched by the accompanying inscriptions on the sculp- 
tured bas-reliefs, on slabs, cylinders and on tablets 
which, when they came to be deciphered, added largely 
to our knowledge of the events of the last three centuries 

*• A most valuable publication is Bezold's monumental Catalogue 
of the Cuneiform Tablets in the Kouyunjik Collection of the British 
Museum (London, 1889-1899) in five large volumes, the introduction 
to which furnishes an excellent general account of the royal library. 



before the fall of Nineveh in 606 B.C., and which were 
the most glorious in the eventful history of Assyria. 

Over one hundred boxes of antiquities were shipped, 
in 1851, to England, and arrived safely at the British 
Museum. In a second popular volume, 27 Layard gave a 
fascinating account of his discoveries, and to the first 
series of illustrations from the monuments he added 
second set of drawings which were made by F. Cooper. 28 
The decipherment of cuneiform inscriptions had by this 
time made sufficient progress to enable Layard, by 
utilizing the results obtained, chiefly through Sir Henry 
Rawlinson and Edward Hincks, to give some account 
of the historical data to be gleaned from the monu 
ments. He could also, as a result of his more thoroug 
study of the numerous buildings unearthed by him at 
Nimrud and Kouyunjik, illustrate the relationship of 
the various royal builders to one another, showing how 
portions of one edifice were restored or enlarged b; 
some successor, and how, in some cases, material used 
in the construction of one palace was transferred an 
made to do service in building the walls or formin 
supports for another. 

The amount of work achieved by Layard during 
second expedition, which lasted only two years, w; 
enormous. Numerous other mounds, both in the north 
and south, were superficially searched for antiquities 
which definitely established the ancient origin of the 
cities buried beneath them. At some places, indeed, 
such as Kaleh-Shergat — the site of the ancient city o: 
Ashur — Arban and Sherif Khan, most striking an- 
tiquities and inscribed monuments were discovered, 
while the work done by him at Niffer, in the south — 
the site of ancient Nippur— yielded sufficient results to 
furnish a clue to the American explorers who were to 

f 7 Discoveries among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (London, 

" The Monuments of Nineveh, 2d series, 71 plates (London, 



undertake the more thorough excavation of the mounds 
at that place some thirty years later. 

The excavations so far had been conducted on 
Assyrian soil, and as a result the three chief cities of 
Assyria were partially unearthed, the old capital, Ashur 
(on the site of Kaleh-Shergat), Calah (on the site of 
Nimrud), originally founded by Shalmaneser I (c. 
1300 B.C.) and which Ashurnasirpal III (883-859 B.C.) 
again made the capital, and Nineveh (on the site of 
Kouyunjik), which had been made the capital in the 
reign of Ashur-bel-kala (c. 1100 B.C.), and again became 
the official seat of government when Shalmaneser III 
(858-824 B.C.) occupied the throne, and remained so 
until the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 606 b.c. To 
these there is to be added Dur Sharrukin (on the site 
of Khorsabad), a creation of Sargon II (721-706 B.C.), 
and which served as an outpost for Nineveh. In addi- 
tion, a number of other Assyrian towns were definitely 
identified and shown to contain treasures which war- 
ranted more systematic excavations. 

Turning now to the mounds of the south, the credit 
of having been the first to conduct excavations for a 
continuous period, albeit a short one, on a site of an 
ancient Babylonian city belongs to the Englishman 
William Kennett Loftus, who, in 1850, and again in 
1853-1854, spent some time in opening trenches in a 
series of extensive mounds at Warka, which proved 
to be the site of ancient Uruk (or Erech), one of the 
oldest as well as one of the most important political and 
religious centres in the Euphrates Valley. At first, as 
was to be expected, the latter period of the city was re- 
vealed, the chief finds being a number of slipper-shaped 
coffins covered with an enamel glaze, which belonged 
to the Persian period, 29 i.e., to the fifth and fourth 
centuries b.c. The city was still in existence though it 
had lost much of its importance, and through the odor 

,s See Plate XV for specimens of such coffins from Nippur, 
and Plate XL, Fig. 1, for coffins of older periods. 



of its time-honored sanctity had become a favorite place 
of burial. Loftus, however, succeeded in pe n et rating 
to the earlier layers which revealed the existence of a 
temple of large dimensions to which as at other sites a 
stage-tower, or zakknrat, was, as was usual, attached. 
In another portion of one of the mwmh an exter 
edifice was found which had all the characteristic fea- 
tures of a royal palace, with wall decorations of glazed 
tiles, pointing to a work of the neo-Babylonian period, 
while the inscriptions, chiefly business documents on 
small clay tablets, likewise indicated the continued 
existence of the city until the overthrow of the neo- 
Babylonian dynasty through Cyrus in 539 B.C. 

By a curious chance, this first Babylonian mound, 
or rather series of mounds, for there are several dis- 
tinct ones, also happens to be the scene of the most 
recent excavations, for in November, 1912, the German 
Oriental Society, some sixty years after Loftus' arrival 
at Warka, began systematic excavations which have re- 
vealed details of the great temple E-anna, " the heav- 
enly house/* in honor of the goddess Nana (or Ishtar) 
whose seat of worship was in ancient Uruk. 

Besides some surface scratchings at Babylon, Nif- 
fer Tell Sif r and other mounds, Loftus also spent some 
time at a mound Senkereh, about fifteen miles to the 
south of Warka where he almost immediately came 
upon remains of a temple and of a stage-tower which 
belonged to a high antiquity, as was subsequently ascer- 
tained from the inscriptions of various kinds, — barrel- 
shaped clay cylinders with historical data, inscribed 
bricks used in the construction of the edifices, and large 
numbers of clay tablets representing business and legal 
documents. Senkereh stands on the site of an ancient 
city, Larsa, identical with the Biblical Ellasar (Gen. 
14, 1) and the seat of the worship of the sun-god, whose 
temple and stage-tower at the place were objects of 
veneration through all periods of Babylonian history. 

At Tell Sifr, still further to the south, although ex- 


cavations were carried on by Lof tus for a few days only, 
large quantities of inscribed tablets and a collection of 
miscellaneous bronze and copper utensils, such as dag- 
gers, hatchets, knives, vases, cauldrons and mirrors 
were found and together with many other antiquities 
sent to England to still further enrich the British 
Museum. 30 

At the same time that the second French expedition 
was engaged in continuing Botta's work at Khorsabad 
and Kouyunjik, 31 Fiilgence Fresnel was placed by the 
French government in charge of excavations to be 
carried on at the site of the ancient city of Babylon. 
Fresnel was accompanied by Jules Oppert, a young 
Bcholar destined soon to become one of the leading 
Assyriologists of his day, and Felix Thomas, an archi- 
tect, who was to study the const ruction of the buildings 
and to make all the drawings in connection with the 
excavations. In the middle of July, 1852, work was 
begun at one of the large mounds, known as Kafir, 
which was afterwards extended to two other mounds, 
Babil and Amran Ibn'Ali, forming part of the complex 
beneath which Babylon lay buried. 82 The results, owing 
to the enormous mass of rubbish of which these mounds 
consisted, were rather disappointing. Numerous brick 
stamps were found containing the name of Nebuchad- 
nezzar II (604-561 B.C.), and which showed that the 
large edifice beneath Kasr 33 was the famous palace of 
that ruler. Quantities of fragments of glazed tiles with 
animals and decorative designs were also unearthed, 
but nothing that could compare in interest or sensa- 
tional importance to what was being found at the same 

■• The results of his labors were embodied by Loftus in bis Travels 
and Researciies in Chaldaea and Susiana (London, 1857). 

81 Above p. 15, seq. 

M The fourth mound, Djumdjuma, was not touched by this 

" The name signifies "castle/' and thus embodies a tradition of 
the royal residence which stood there. 


e leading 
to the other: and be was furthermore ab 
with tolerable eeitiiwty that the tower was 
bv a anaD chapel or eknober in which pre- 
the statue of the deity, Ea. the patron deity of 
Eridn, or some symbol of the god stood. This would be 

iption of 
that at the 
with a symbol 
the tower was 

in accord with HerodotoB/ 
the stage-tower at Babylon 
lop off these towers there was a sk 
or image of the god or goddess to w 
dedicated In contrast to all other 
Irfwtrrth the mounds of the sooth before and since 
Taylor's days, which are built of baked or unbaked 
brides, the structures at Abo Khahrarn showed the em- 
ployment of a considerable amount of sandstone, 
granite and marble which, since the Euphrates Valley 
ia entirely devoid of stone, must have been brought to 
Eridu by way of the Persian Gulf. Taylor also used 
his sojourn in this most southern district to examine 
other mounds and make tentative excavations there so 
that until the advent of the French explorer, de Sarzec 
some twenty years later, it was to Taylor that we owed 
the most valuable part of our knowledge of the mounds 
in the south. 

Before taking up the account of de Sarzec *s extra- 
ordinary activity, a few words need to be said of Sir 
Uenry Rawlinson's brief but successful investigations 
at Birs Nimrud, the site of the ancient city of Borsippa. 
The striking appearance of the ruin of a stage-tower 
rising high above the mounds at that place 18 was no 

"Book I, §181. 

* 8m p. 23 and Plate XXXIX. The name of the stage-tower at 
Borappa was E-ur-imin-an-ki, "House of the seven divisions of 
heaven and earth"; that at Babylon was E-temen-an-ki, "House of 
foundation of heaven and earth." In both names there is evidence 
of a close association of earth with heaven, implied also in the Bib- 
lical tale that is intended as a protest against these religious "sky 


doubt a factor in giving rise to the current tradition 
in the region that this ruin was the Tower of Babel. 
The tradition was correct in so far as the Biblical legend 
was based on the general custom, as we have seen, of 
erecting high towers in connection with the temples of 
Babylonia and Assyria. Borsippa, moreover, lay close 
to Babylon, so close, indeed, that the two cities at times 
appeared to form a single complex. Rawlinson, whose 
many-sided activity as decipherer, explorer and editor 
of cuneiform texts makes him on the whole the most 
prominent figure in the history of Assyriology, was 
most anxious to try his luck at Birs Nimrud, especially 
after the rather negative results of the French expedi- 
tion to Babylon and surrounding sites, and which had 
dampened the enthusiasm aroused by the discoveries 
of Botta, Place and Lavar d. While arranging as 
British resident and consul general at Baghdad for the 
expeditions of Lof tus and Taylor and for the continua- 
tion of the work in the north under Hormuzd Rassam, 
who, after Layard's departure in 1852, was placed in 
charge, Rawlinson himself was given the opportunity 
of spending two months, in the fall of 1854, at the 
mounds of Babylon and Borsippa. Profiting by the 
experience and knowledge gained through the course of 
the excavations, he first made a careful study of the 
exposed portions of the tower at Birs Nimrud with a 
view to determine its general construction and extent, 
the number of its stages and an estimate of the depth 
of the lowest layer. Assuming that at the four corners 
of the huge construction, foundation clay cylinders with 
dedicatory inscriptions would be found in situ, he on 
the basis of his measurements began to remove the 
bricks at one of the exposed angles of the third stage 
and within an hour a perfect cylinder was brought out 
by one of the workmen at the very spot where Rawlin- 
son had told the workmen to search for it. A second 
one was found at another corner, and subsequently the 



fragments of a third. 3 * The inscription proved that 
Raw Jin son had discovered the famous tower of Bor- 
sippa which bore the name of E-ur-imin-an-ki, 
" House of the seven divisions of heaven and earth/ ■ 
indicating that the tower symbolized the entire uni- 
verse, connecting the earth, as it were, with the heavens. 
Rawlinson also determined that the tower at least in 
the form given to it by the restoration through 
Nebuchadnezzar II, at the beginning of the sixth 
century, B.C., consisted of seven stages, as symbolized 
in the name, one superimposed upon the other and 
receding in circumference as one proceeded from stage 
to stage. The lowest stage, according to Rawlinson 's 
measurements, was 272 feet square and about 26 feet 
high. Many fragments of the bricks showed remains 
of glazing in different colors, black, blue and red being 
recognizable. The number of stages varies in the case 
of the towers so far excavated, from two to seven, the 
number in earliest days being usually four, with the 
tendency to increase the height as we pass down the 
centuries. The main purpose was to build a high 
mass in imitation of a mountain, with a winding 
balustrade as a means of reaching the top, where the 
shrine of the deity to whom the tower was dedicated, 

It will be seen that as a result of the work done at 
the mounds in the north and south from the year 1842 
to 1855 by the splendid series of explorers, Botta, Place, 
Ltytrd, ItMBlin, Frcsnel, Oppert, Loftus, Taylor, and 
Rav i, an enormous mass of material had been 

urn -arthed, many edifices, chiefly temples, towers and 
palaces, had been discovered, and in some cases quite 
thoroughly excavated. The general character of these 
constructions had been determined and in the case of 

19 RawHnion'i account of his work will be found in an article On 
the Bin Nimrud or the (heat Temple of Borsippa (Journal of the 
Royal Atiatic Rockty> vol. xviii (1861), pp. 1-34). 


Assyrian palaces t many of the details had also been 
ascertained. I The art of the time was illustrated by 
numerous monuments, dating from various periods, 
valuable historical and votive inscriptions, clay tablets 
representing business and legal documents of various 
periods and, above all, the extensive library archives 
gathered in his palace by the, greatest of Assyrian kings 
had been brought to light, j 


For about twenty years after Rawlinson's departure 
from Baghdad, no excavations were carried on either 
in the north or the south, and it was perhaps just as well 
that a period elapsed before excavations were resumed 
so as to afford the scholars of Europe, devoting them- 
selves to cuneiform research, opportunity to study the 
material which had been gathered and which both the 
British Museum and the Louvre, with commendable 
zeal, were planning to make accessible to scholars.* 
By the year 1870 a large amount of the material had 
been published, besides many detailed studies on the 
language of the inscriptions to which the name Assyrian 
was currently given. The decipherment was thus placed 
on a securer basis, and translations of some of the 
more important historical and dedicatory texts on 
cylinders and on inscribed slabs and monuments were 
made, which, however deficient in details, left no doubt 
in the minds of impartial judges that the main facts 
had been correctly determined. 

Interest in continuing the excavations was aroused 

40 See pp. 16, 17 and 28, for Botta's, Place's and Oppert's 
publications. In 1861 the British Museum began, under the editor- 
ship of Sir Henry Kawlinson, the publication of the cuneiform texts 
in the British Museum. Five large folio volumes under the title The 
Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, were issued (1861-1880), 
and this series was followed by a second, Cuneiform Texts from 
Babylonian Tablets, etc., in the British Museum (1900 to date), of 
which, up to the present, 34 parts, each containing about 50 plates, 
have been issued. 


anew through the discoveries made among the tablets 
of AshurbanapaPs library, by George Smith, first en- 
gaged as an engraver in the British Museum, and then 
as an Assistant in the Department of Assyrian An- 
tiquities. In the fall of 1872 he came across a large 
fragment on which, as he found by patient study, there 
was related the story of a great Deluge. Upon proceed- 
ing further he ascertained that the cuneiform record 
bore striking points of resemblance with the Biblical 
account. At a meeting of the Society of Biblical Archae- 
ology, held on December third of that year, he presented 
the results of his studies which showed that the 
Assyrian account of the Deluge formed part of a large 
composition recounting the adventures of a hero whose 
name was provisionally read Izdubar, but who, as we 
now know, was called Gilgamesh. The resemblance 
between the Biblical and the cuneiform tale of a great 
catastrophe which destroyed all mankind was the chief 
reason for the profound sensation aroused by Smith's 
discoveries. The London "Daily Telegraph" at once 
came forward with an offer to defray the cost of an ex- 
pedition to Kouyunjik to search for further portions 
of the royal library. The offer was accepted by the 
trustees of the British Museum, and early in 1873 
George Smith left for the mounds of Assyria and 
Babylonia, which he was to visit again in 1874 and 1876, 
only to meet his death at Aleppo on the occasion of his 
third trip, stricken down with a malarial fever that 
was sweeping through the region. His death, on the 
nineteenth of August, 1876, at the early age of forty- 
seven years, was a severe loss to science, for his past 
work had given promise of still greater usefulness in 
the future. As a result of his two sojourns at Kou- 
yunjik several hundred fragments of the library tablets 
were added to the collections of the British Museum, 
besides numerous inscribed cylinders, slabs and other 
objects which he obtained as a result of further search 
in the mounds at Nimrud, Kaleh-Shergat and else- 


where. Previous to this Rassarn, during his excava- 
tions at Kouyunjik after Layard's departure, had also 
found many hundreds of fragments and a last gleaning 
was secured many years afterwards through a further 
search of the ruins of the palace made by E. A. Wallis- 
Budge and by L. W. King of the British Museum. 

George Smith's sojourn at the mounds was too brief 
to allow him to undertake systematic or even extensive 
excavations. All that he could do was to rummage 
through the ruins uncovered by his predecessors, chiefly 
at Kouyunjik, Nimrud and Kaleh-Shergat, to open 
some further trenches and hunt in a more or less desul- 
tory manner for further inscriptions and monuments. 
The same general remark holds good for the labors 
of Hormuzd Rassam at mounds both in the north and 
the south during the years following upon Smith's 
death. For a period of five years, 1878-1882, he spent 
several months each year at the mounds. His energy 
was indefatigable, and with added experience he was 
able frequently to achieve remarkable success in a com- 
paratively short time. He gathered, during his pro- 
longed sojourn, a large number of most important an- 
tiquities, and definitely identified many mounds as cov- 
ering ancient remains. Among his discoveries perhaps 
the most remarkable was the finding of a large number 
of strips of bronze embossed with ornaments, figures 
and inscriptions that proved to be parts of huge bronze 
plates covering the cedar gates of a palace of Shal- 
maneser III.* 1 This discovery was made at a site, 
Balawat, about fifteen miles to the east of Mosul, the 
ancient name of which was Imgur-Enlil. The scenes 
represented on the bronze panels were illustrative of 
the campaigns of Shalmaneser III. With remarkable 

" See the superb publication, Bronze Ornaments of tJie Palace 
Gates of Balawat, by Samuel Birch and T. G. Pinches (London, 
1881), and Billerbeck and Delitzsch, die Palasttore Salmanassars II 
van Balawat (Beitrage zur Assyriologie, vi, 1). See Plates LXYIII 
and LXIX. 



attention to details, the camp scenes, the marching 
Assyrian armies, the attacks on the enemy, the capture 
of forts, the taking of booty and captives, as well as 
sacrificial rites in connection with the campaigns were 
depicted. Through such illustrations the costumes of 
the various divisions of the army, the trappings of the 
horses, the arrangement of the camps, the utensils and 
customs of daily life and many details of the ritual 
were revealed. These data were supplemented and 
further illustrated by the inscriptions accompanying 
the designs. Still greater success awaited Rassam in 
his excavations at a number of the southern mounds, 
which were also more >s\ 'somatically conducted. 
Attacking several of the mounds that cover the site 
of Babylon, he was far more successful than his 
predecessors in securing rich returns in epigraphical 
material. Significant among the historical records 
was a clay cylinder giving the account by Cyrus 
himself of his conquest of Babylonia in 539 b.c./ 2 that 
event of world-wide import which was destined to 
bring to an end the history of Babylonia and Assyria. 
A large collection of business documents covering 
the Neo-Baby Ionian period (625-539 B.C.) 43 was also 
found which, together with several thousand similar 
tablets from the mounds at Babylon secured by 
George Smith shortly before his death, greatly in- 
creased the material for studying the legal procedure 
and the many-sided business activity of Babylonia. 
Through these tablets we obtain an insight into the life, 
the occupations, the business methods and the com- 
mercial activity of the people which supplemented the 
view of the intellectual life obtained through the 
literary documents and the picture of the political and 
military energies and ambitions resulting from a study 
of the historical records. The business documents cov- 
ered every phase of every-day occurrences, sale and hire 

« See Plate XXV, Fig. 2. 

43 See Chapter VI for specimens of such documents. 


of fields, rent and sale of houses, loans and receipts, 
' >r work, 1 eports of business agents, marriage 
and divorce, last r, staments and terms of adoption, 
suits of all kinds I the decisions of judges, and so on 
through th limit of the records one might find 

in the legal ar my municipality of the present 

day." Be the archive of Babylon, Rassam also 

discovered ive business archive in the temple 

area of W*a, a new site which Rassam's excava- 

tions defii 'eutified as the ancient city Sippar, a 

centre of it of Shamash, the sun-god, wliich 

played a i u • jtable part in Babylonian history. The 
mounds llabba cover an enormous extent, no 

less thr acres, according to recent calculations, 4 * 

of whi< temple area — including, as in all of the 

large d f Babylonia, numerous edifices, smaller 

temples a. d chapels, besides houses for the temple ad- 
ministration and for the housing of the priests — alone 
covered al rot 40 acres. He opened up a large number 
of rooms nd was rewarded by finding no less than 
60,000 cla\ tablets in the temple archives, most of them 
business documents, but also quite a sprinkling of liter- 
ary documents, such as those in Ashurbanapal's li- 
brary, — hymns, reports, omen texts, grammatical exer- 
cises, mathematical lists, etc. Numerous historical 
documents were also found at Abu Habba by Rassam, 
most valuable among these being a superb stone tablet 
containing at the head a design representing Shamash 
seated in his shrine, with his two attendants, holding 
ropes attached to a wheel as the symbol of the sun, while 
into the presence of the sun-god a king is being led pre- 
ceded by a priest and followed by the goddess A, the 
consort of Shamash, in the attitude of interceding with 
her divine husband on behalf of the king. A long in- 
scription covering both sides of the tablet recounts the 
history of the temple, relating how in consequence of 

" See, for details, Chapter VI. 

*• Hilpreeht, Explorations in Bible Lands, p. 268. 


disasters to Sippar, the cult of Shaniash had been neg- 
lected, and the old image of the god had disappeared, 
but Nebopaliddin, the king of Babylonia (c. 888-854 
B.C.), determined on restoring the grandeur of the old 
temple, had been fortunate in finding a terra-eotta 
relief of the image, from which as a model a new 
image was made. The inscription, full of interest- 
ing historical details and of regulations of the cult, 
closes with a list of gifts and offerings ordered by 
Nebopaliddin to be set aside regularly on six festive 
occasions during the year. 46 He also found some re- 
markable boundary-stones, recording grants of land to 
royal officials and decorated with symbols of the gods, 
who were invoked as witnesses to the transaction and 
whose curses are called down upon any one defacing or 
destroying the monument or altering any of its speci- 
fications. Twelve years later, in 1894, supplemental 
excavations were carried on at Abu Habba by Prof. 
Vincent Scheil, of Paris, under the auspices of the 
Turkish government, which resulted in adding many 
hundreds of literary documents from the temple ar- 
chives, terra-eotta figurines and bas-reliefs, some repre- 
senting Shamash and his consort, others models of 
animals, deposited as votive offerings, utensils and 
weapons in bronze, numerous seal-cylinders with 
various designs and used to roll over the soft clay of the 
business documents as signatures of the parties inter- 
ested, numerous inscribed bricks and pieces of pottery. 47 
Scheil was also able, despite the shortness of his stay at 
Abu Habba, more accurately to determine the various 

4 * For a summary of the inscription see Harper, Assyrian and 
Babylonian Literature, pp. 30-33; it is fully treated by Johannes 
Jeremias, "Die Cultustafel von Sippar" (Beitriige zur Assyriologie 
I, pp. 268-292). 

47 A full account of Seheil's excavations will be found in his 
volume, line Saison de Fouilles a Sippar (Memoires de l'lnstitut 
Franc.ais d 'ArcMologie Orientate du Caire, (1902) vol. i, fas. 1). 



divisions of the temple and something of its interior 
arrangement, including the site of the temple school. 

Rassam, during the five years covered by his fir- 
man, searched many other mounds in the north and 
south, eondncting hurried excavations at some of them 
with varying results. Notably at Birs Nimrud 48 he 
laid bare no less than eighty rooms in the huge temple 
E-zida, "the legitimate house/* dedicated to Nabu, the 
chief deity of Borsippa. Among the documents found 
here, special mention should be made of a terra-cotta 
cylinder containing in cuneiform an account of the 
restoration of the temple by the Greek governor of 
Babylonia, Antiochus Soter, in the year 270 B.C., a most 
interesting proof of the continued sanctity which the 
temple continued to enjoy almost three centuries after 
the fall of Babylon. The mounds at Tell Ibrahim, about 
fifteen miles to the north-east of Hillah, and those at 
Daillum, about ten miles* to the south of Hillah, were 
among those included in his tours through the region 
with, however, indifferent results. In an interesting 
volume 49 he gives an account of his entire career as an 
explorer which, beginning in the days of Layard, ex- 
tended to the threshold of the latest epoch in Babyl- 
onian and Assyrian excavations. With Rassam a 
second period in excavations on the Tigris and 
Euphrates closes. The third, which begins about the 
time that Rassam started on his last series of cam- 
paigns, is marked by systematic excavations concen- 
trated on a single series of mounds. 


In 1877 the French Vice-consul at Basra, Ernest 
de Sarzec, began a series of excavations in a series of 
mounds at Telluh, in the extreme southern section of 
the Euphrates Valley, selected by him after a recon- 
noitering tour as a most promising locality. With 

48 See above, p. 31 seq. 

"Aashur and the Land of Nimrod (N. Y., 1897). 



short interruptions these excavations were continued 
hy de Sarzec until his death, in 1901, and since that 
time under the guidance of Gaston Cros. 

Of the series of mounds at Telloh there were two 
which attracted particular attention, each rising about 
fifty to sixty feet above the plain. De Sarzec began his 
work at the smaller of the two and soon came upon the 
remains of an extensive palace which, however, turned 
out to be a late construction B0 belonging to about the 
beginning of the third century B.C. Along with evi- 
dence of a late construction, indications of a very early 
edifice were found, and the interesting problem thus 
raised was finally solved by the definite proof that the 
palace, dating from Parthian times, and following in 
its general construction the model of Assyrian palaces, 
was erected on the site of an ancient Babylonian temple, 
the material of which was partly used in the late con- 
struction. The substratum was erected, in accordance 
with a practice that was thus shown to be a trait of the 
architecture of the region from the earliest to the 
latest period on an immense terrace, about forty feet 
high, while the expanse itself covered some 600 feet 
square. The older building, which alone interests us 
proves to be a temple of large proportions and dedicated 
to Ningirsu, the patron deity of Shirpurla (or Lagash), 
which was thus identified as the city covered by the 
mound Telloh. 51 The foundation of the temple can be 
traced back to Urukagina (c. 2700 B.C.), and may be 
several centuries older even than this ruler. It was 
an object of veneration to all rulers of the city and 
acquired a significance that prompted rulers of other 
centres to leave traces of their devotion to Ningirsu, 
through enlarging the dimensions of the temple or 

"Shown by inscribed bricks bearing the name of Hadad- 
nadin-akhe in Aramaean and Greek characters. 

il Telloh means the * ' mound of tablets, ' ' and thus preserves the 
tradition of the temple archive which was discovered by de Sarzec 
and which formed one of the features of the temple area. 





through repairs of portions that had fallen into decay. 
Little was left, however, of the old temple beyond a wall 
at the east corner, which formed part of the work done 
by Ur-Bau (e. 2450 B.C.), and a tower and gate con- 
structed by Gudea about a century later, and some 
layers of bricks in various sections. In the course of 
the excavations, however, a large number of remarkable 
monuments were found, and a truly astonishing array 
of miscellaneous objects, inscribed vases, seal cylinders, 
bas-reliefs, bronze votive offerings, pottery, iron 
utensils, terra-cotta cylinders, and inscribed cones. 
Chief among these were nine magnificent diorite statues 
of Gudea, in whose days Shirpurla, although no longer 
forming an independent state, enjoyed a second period 
of grandeur. These statues, representing the ruler in 
sitting posture or standing, were covered with inscrip- 
tions indicating that they were set up as votive offer- 
ings. Gudea in thus placing statues of himself in the 
sacred edifice followed the example of Ur-Bau, of whom 
likewise an inscribed statue w T as found. The stone, as 
Gudea tells us in his inscriptions, was brought from a 
distant land, as he brought copper and gold and 
precious woods from various parts of Arabia and cedars 
from northern Syria. Such intercourse with distant 
lands is an illustration of the commercial activity pre- 
vailing at that early period. 

The interest aroused in France through the arrival 
of the statues at the Louvre was sufficient to ensure 
further grants from the French government to continue 
the excavations. The inscriptions proved to be couched 
in the old Sumerian language spoken by the non- 
Semitic inhabitants who in the earliest period were in 
control of the region. When they came to be deciphered, 
they threw a new light on early political conditions ha 
the Euphrates Valley, and our knowledge of those con- 
ditions was still further increased through the inter- 
containing about 2000 lines, which furnished us with 
pretation of the two large terra-cotta cylinders, each 



detailed information regarding Gudea's plans in the 
construction of E-ninnn, how he was prompted to 
undertake this work at the direct instance of Ningirsu, 
who appeared to him in a dream and gave him instruc- 
tions how to proceed. The picture of the earliest cul- 
ture in the south now grew more distinct and it became 
evident that Assyrian culture was only an extension of 
the civilization that arose in the south. It was there- 
fore in the southern mounds that the origin of the civili- 
zation of the region was to be sought, and as a conse- 
quence the activity of exploring expeditions since 
de Sarzec's days was largely directed to the mounds 
in the south. The work at Telloh was by no means 
limited to the illustration of the days of Gudea. 
Monuments were found taking us back far beyond 
this period, as, e.g* t the fragments of an elaborate sculp- 
tured votive offering, showing on the one side the 
god Ningirsu with the double-headed eagle, the stand- 
ard of Sbirpuria, in one hand and a great net in the 
other, in which he has gathered the heads of the 
enemy. 52 The accompanying inscription told the story 
of the conflict against the people of Umma, the triumph 
of Eannatum (e. 2900 B.C.) and the agreement made 
between the contesting parties." Another monument, 
likewise a votive offering, dating from the days of 
Eannatum *s grandfather Ur-Nina, who placed a tablet 
of sandstone in the great temple of Ningirsu, inscribed 
with his name and titles and exhibiting a lion-headed 
eagle clutching a lion with each of its talons. 64 Other 
votive offerings were of bronze and represented a kneel- 

"See the comprehensive work by Ernest de Larzec et Leon 
Heuzey, Decouvertes en Ckaldee (Paris, 1884r-1912) followed by 
Gaston Cros, Leon Heuzey et Francois Thureau-Dangin, Nouvelles 
Fouillesde Tello (Paris, 1910). 

68 See the recent publication of Leon Heuzey et F. Thureau- 
Dangin, Restitution Materwlte de la Stele des Vautours (Paris, 
1909). See Plates XL VII and XL VIII. 

" See Plate XLIX, Fig. L 


ing deity holding a pointed cone, others again crouch- 
ing bulls surmounting a pointed cone, female or male 
figures bearing baskets on their heads and covered with 
dedicatory inscriptions, or statuettes terminating in a 

In the second of the two larger mounds de Sarzec 
was no less successful. Remains of buildings of various 
dates were unearthed, all of which seemed to have 
served some purpose connected with the great temple, 
such as smaller shrines for the deities worshipped at 
Lagash, forming the court around Ningirsu, store- 
rooms, granaries and perhaps archive chambers, as well 
as dwellings for some of the many officials connected 
with the constantly growing temple administration. 
Many valuable monuments were likewise found in this 
mound. Prominent among these was a superb silver 
vase, delicately incised with representations, running 
around the vase, of lion-headed eagles clutching lions, 
ibexes and deers, while the upper portion depicts a 
series of crouching bulls. The accompanying inscrip- 
tion tells us that the vase, which is one of the finest 
specimens of Babylonian art and reveals the high devel- 
opment reached in very early days, was an offering 
made by Entemena, a ruler of Shirpurla, whose date 
is about 2850 B.C., and who was a son of Eannatum, to 
whom we owe the monument above described, which is 
commonly known among archaeologists as the "Stele 
of Vultures.' ' A series of three limestone votive tablets 
showing Ur-Nina, a ruler of Shirpurla (c. 3000 B.C.), 
accompanied by his children, is of special interest in 
revealing to us an array of Sumerian types and further 
details of the Sumerian mode of dress. 58 

Our knowledge of the remarkable art of the earliest 
period was further enriched through the discovery of 
such objects as an elaborately sculptured pedestal in 

"Plate XL VI, Fig. 1; Plates LX1II and LXIV for votive 
statuettes, above referred to ; and Plate LXXI, Fig. 1, for the silver 
of Entemena. 



dark green steatite, f orming the support to some large 
piece and showing seven small squatting figures dis- 
tributed around the pedestal, a mace-head elaborately 
carved, dedicated by a King Mesilim of the city of Kish 
(c. 3100 B.C.), a large spear-head of copper about two 
and a half feet long and dedicated to Ningirsu by 
another ruler of Kish, superb lion heads carved in lime- 
stone and serving a decorative purpose, libation bowls 
and sculptured placques of various kinds, round trays 
in veined onyx, furnishing additional names of rulers 
of Lagash, an unusually large bas-relief in limestone, 
over four feet high and representing priests and a 
musician playing a harp of eleven strings, the whole 
being again a votive offering for the ancient temple. 58 
Through such objects as well as through the various 
designs on seal cylinders, 67 of <a religious character or 
illustrating episodes in myths and popular tales, a 
further insight into the religious life and beliefs was 
afforded, the forms and features given to the various 
gods and goddesses, their symbols, the style of their 
altars, the kind of sacrifices offered to them, and the 
various phases of symbolism in the cult. Supplemental 
to the monuments, to the works of art, and to the votive 
and historical inscriptions, de Sarzec was fortunate 
enough to discover in another section of the mounds 
the extensive temple archive of clay tablets, dealing 
with the administration of the temple property and the 
commercial affairs of the temple officials. The tablets 
were arranged in layers, evidently according to some 
system so that any particular one could readily be 
picked out. In all, some 30,000 tablets were found, but 
the greater portion were stolen by the natives during 
de Sarzec's absence and falling into the hands of 
dealers are now scattered throughout the museums of 
Europe and this country, and in private hands. Many 
thousands have now been published, from which we 

»• See Plate XLV, Pig. 2, and Plate LIII for the lion heads. 
" See at the close of Chapter VII, and Plate LXXV-LXXVIL 


have secured a detailed view of the extent of temple 
activity and the methods of temple administration in 
early Babylonian days. The new series of excavations 
also resulted in discovering the section of the ancient 
city in which the dead were buried. A considerable 
portion of the necropolis has been laid bare, showing 
for the first time the arrangement of an ancient Babyl- 
onian cemetery, and incidentally settling a hitherto dis- 
puted point whether burial constituted the oldest form 
of disposing of the dead in the Euphrates Valley. No 
traces of cremation were found, but the methods of 
burial were not uniform. Some of the graves were 
square vaults into which the bodies were sunk, others 
were shaped somewhat like barrels, within which the 
bodies were placed. 


It is time, however, to turn to other excavations 
conducted during the past thirty years at southern 
mounds. Early in 1889, an expedition fitted out by the 
University of Pennsylvania, under the leadership of 
Dr. John P. Peters (now of New York), began work 
at a large series of mounds at Niffer, the site of ancient 
Nippur, at which Layard, it will be recalled, 58 had made 
some tentative explorations. With some interruptions 
the excavations were continued till the summer of 1900, 
Dr. Peters being replaced, after 1888, by the late John 
IL Haynes, who was the first to demonstrate the pos- 
sibility of continuing work at the mounds throughout 
the year and not merely during the dry season, though 
the hardships endured no doubt drained his vitality and 
hastened his early death. In 1889, the late Prof. R. F. 
Harper, of the University of Chicago, and Prof. H. V. 
Hilprecht, of the University of Pennsylvania, also 
accompanied the expedition as Assyriologists during 
the two and a half months of active work, and the 
latter paid another short visit to the mounds in 1900, 

68 Above, p. 24. The more accurate native form is Nuffar. 



at that time of four — possibly five — stages, rising to a 
height of over 150 feet. Within the temple area, cover- 
ing a large extent and surrounded by two walls, an 
inner and an outer one, traces of numerous shrines be- 
sides the main temple were discovered, and, in the case 
of some of these, the definite outlines could be deter- 
mined. The main temple, known as E-kur, or " moun- 
tain house," was the special sanctuary of Enlil, whom 
the Sumerians, as it would appear, brought with them 
from their mountain homes. Nippur became, as early 
at least as 3000 B.C., the chief religious centre of 
Sumerian settlements, which carried with it the undis- 
puted position of Enlil as the head of the pantheon. 
We have seen that Nippur, like Telloh, continued to 
be a stronghold in Persian days. The coming of the 
Greeks made no change in its status, as Greek inscrip- 
tions and Greek figurines attest; and when finally Ki[ 
pur was abandoned as a settlement of the living, its old- 
time sanctity made it a favorite place of burial. Hun- 
dreds of clay bowls, containing magical inscriptions in 
Aramaic and Syriac as a protection of the dead against 
evil demons, and dating from about the sixth century 
of our era were found in graves ei of the uppermost 
layers in certain sections of the mound as a proof that 
Nippur continued to be a sacred necropolis for Je\ 
and Christians many centuries after it had ceased tc 
be occupied and at a time when all traces and even the 
recollection of its one-time grandeur had disappeared." 

81 See Prof, J. A, Montgomery's valuable publication of the por 
tion of the collection that came to the University of Pennsylvania, 
under the title of Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur (PI 
delphia, 1913). 

62 To this day southern Babylonia is a favorite burial place for 
Mohammedans who bring the bodies of their relatives from a loi 
distance to lie in the sacred cities of Kerbela and Nedjef, associated 
with the deeds and martyrdom of the two sons of Ali. It is a 
question worth investigating, whether the sanctity of such places 
as Kerbela and Nedjef may not revert to the ancient Babylonian 






Through the work of Peters and Haynes, 63 scholars 
were enabled for the first time to obtain a more definite 
view of the religious architecture of early Babylonia, 
which was closely followed in Assyria, though with some 
modifications. The temple proper was divided into two 
courts, an outer and an inner one. In the outer one 
stood the altar to which the sacrifices were brought.' 14 
It was here that the people assembled, while the inner 
court leadin to the holy of holies, in which the statue 
of the deity * >od, was accessible to the priests only. 
Attached to t 3 temple, either behind it or to one side 
was the stagt -tower, the stories of which, as already 
pointed out, v ned from two to seven stages, one set 

rv ±Vr> ^+i^ T ^ <, n( j eaen succeeding stage being some- 
Wl J the top was reached. 

Mention & old be made of the large number of 
votive inscriptions found in the Nippur mounds, which, 
by nature of tie historical data contained in them, 
added much to our knowledge of political events and 
conditions in the third millennium B.C., and revealed 
the names of rulers of whom nothing or little was known 
ere this. 65 Thus many fragments of stone vases were 

period, in wiich case the Mohammedan traditions in regard to these 
places may simply be the adaptation of the pre-Islamic sanctity to 
later conditio $. In a private communication, Prof. Noldeke (June 
13, 1913) calls my attention to the fact that a village by the name 
of Nineveh in southern Babylonia is frequently mentioned in Arabic 
literature (Yakut and TabariJ — an indication of the continuance of 
Babylonian a, d Assyrian traditions far into the Islamic period. 

m Great credit is also due to Mr. C. S. Fisher, now associated 
with Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Pine Arts, 
who accompanied the expedition in 1899-1900 as architect and 
through whom many of the architectural problems suggested by the 
mounds were solved. In a large publication, Nippur, unfortunately 
not yet completed, Mr. Fisher has set forth the results of his careful 
and important investigations. 

44 See Chapter VII and the temple plan there given. 

•• Published by H. V. Hilprecht in Vol I, Parts 1 and 2, of the 
Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania and in 
Poebel 's volumes above, p. 46, note 60, referred to. 


found which, upon being pieced together, furnished a 
large inscription of Lugalzaggisi (c. 2675 B.C.), the king 
of Erech or Uruk, who extended his dominions until 
he could lay claim to the title also of King of Sinner, 
and who tells us in the inscription accompanying his 
votive offerings of his various campaigns and conquests. 
In the lowest strata of the mounds a large number 
of vases and jars — some of them of unusually large size 
— were found, and among other interesting disco \ rii.s, 
a series of drain pipes laid in vaulted tunnels showed 
that at an early period a system for drainage had been 
devised. The monuments unearthed up to the present 
at Nippur are not as numerous as those found by de 
Sarzec and Cros at Telloh, but include such interesting 
specimens as a large votive tablet of Ur-Enlil (c. 3000 
B.C.), showing the ruler in the act of offering a libation 
to Enlil. The great antiquity of the plaque, perforated 
in the centre so that it could be fastened to a wall, is 
proved not merely by the characters used in the in- 
scription but by the representation of the ruler in a 
naked state before his god. The lower part of the tablet 
shows a goat and a sheep followed by two attendants 
who are presumably leading the animals, as sacrifices, 
into the presence of the god. M 

Another expedition fitted out by an American insti- 

68 A detailed account of the work during 1888-1890 was given 
by Dr. Peters in his work, Nippur (2 vols., New York, 1890), and 
an account of the entire series of excavations from 1888-1900 by 
Prof. II. V. Hilprecht in Explorations in Bible Lands, pp. 289-568, 
though this account is unfortunately marred by belittling of Peters' 
and Haynes' work, and by some statements which give one an 
erroneous impression, both of the conditions under which finds were 
made and of the finds themselves. The publication of texts found 
at Nippur has proceeded steadily since 1891. Apart from the 
volumes above (p. 4G and p. 49), instanced, Prof. Clay has issued 
seven volumes of business and legal documents from the Cassite, neo~ 
Babylonian and Persian periods, Drs. H, Ranke, A. Poebel and 
D. W. Myhrman, similar documents of the First Dynasty of Babylon 
and of the Ur dynasty, and Dr. H. Radau a selection of official 


tiition conducted excavations for some months in 1903- 
1904, at Bismya, with Dr. E. J. Banks as director, who 
was acting for the University of Chicago. In some 
respects this work of Dr. Banks was the most remark- 
able of the many undertakings at the mounds, both be- 
cause of the rich results obtained in a comparatively 
short time and because of the conditions under which 
these results were obtained- Bismya lies in the very 
In 'art of the desert region of southern Babylonia, diffi- 
cult of access owing to the desperate character of the 
Arab tribes in the vicinity. 

Alone and unaided Banks proceeded to Bismya, 
organized his corps of workmen and began his excava- 
tions on Christmas Day, 1903. He kept up the work 
until well into May of the following year, when the 
excessive heat and the wretched sanitary conditions 
furled an abandonment till fall. Proceeding as method- 
ically as the difficult circumstances could allow, he 
soon determined that Bismya covered the remains of an 
ancient city that was abandoned long before the Babyl- 
onian empire came to an end. A little below the surface, 
remains of ancient buildings came to view, and it soon 
became evident also that the city had been destroyed by 
an invasion. Banks traced the outlines of the royal 
palace, of the temple and its stage-tower, and uncov- 
ered a large portion of the residential district. The 
palace fronting on the canal contained a large number 
of rooms grouped around a central court, and Banks 
ascertained that the same general plan was followed 
in the case of the private houses, only that the number 
of rooms was of course much smaller, and that the 
palace probably contained, besides the large court, a 
second one around which the apartments reserved for 
the harem were distributed. Vertical drains leading 

reports and administrative documents, and a monograph on frag- 
ments of a Ninib myth found among the tablets of the literary section 
of the temple archive. See Plate XLIII, Fig. 2, for the native tablet 
of Ur-Enffl. 



down to the foundations were found in several rooms, 
suggesting their use as bath rooms and indicative of at 
least some attempts at sanitation in very early days. 
Pottery of various shapes, animals modelled in clay, 
suggesting their use as toys, statuettes of deities serv- 
ing as household gods, and several hundred tablets were 
among the finds of the palace, but far richer were the 
objects discovered in the temple area. Chief among 
these were remains of various statues of stone, reveal- 
ing a high order of work in the modelling of the face 
and in the arrangement of the garments. One of these 
statues, though f oimd in several pieces, could be almost 
entirely restored, and constitutes one of the most valu- 
able specimens of the art of early Babylonia. It proved 
to be that of an ancient ruler whose name is probably to 
be read Lugal-daudu (Plate XXIV, Fig. 1) and the in- 
scription on the right arm of the statue also revealed the 
name of the temple as E-sar, and that of the city as Adab. 
Most of the heads found show the ordinarv Sumerinn 
type, with shaven head, but there was one with distinctly 
Semitic features with a full beard, proving that at an 
early period the population consisted of the two ele- 
ments which we encounter everywhere in the remains 
of the ancient cities of the Euphrates region. Sinking 
a shaft some fifty feet through the mound down to the 
pure sand of the desert level, Banks was able to de- 
termine that below the temple, erected on a platform of 
plano-convex bricks there was an older structure. In- 
scribed bricks and vases found at the higher level 
furnished the names of Dungi and Ur-Engur, of the 
Ur dynasty (c. 2450 B.C.), and of Sargon and Naram- 
Sin, of Akkad, belonging to c. 2650 B.c. For the older 
temple we may thus go back to at least 3000 b.c. and 
perhaps to a still earlier date. On a fragment of a blue- 
stone vase found in the temple, a drawing occurs of a 
stage-tower which is of inestimable value in illustrating 
the ancient shape of these adjuncts to the temple 
proper. The drawing shows four stories or stages of 


receding size, one placed on the other, and wfe may con- 
clude that four stories represented the number in the 
rase of the zikkiirat in ancient Adab. 

Numerous inscribed vases, placed as votive offerings 
in the temple, confirmed E-sar as the name of the sacred 
edifice and that it was sacred to the goddess Nin- 
kharsag, " the lady of the mountain." Statuettes of the 
goddess seated on a throne were discovered, and also a 
statue of white stone, which enables us to see at closer 
range the features given by the Babylonians to the 
divine patron of the place, who seems to be identical 
with Ninlil, the consort of Enlil, of Nippur, and whose 
cult may have been transferred from the latter place. 
Banks was also fortunate enough to come across hun- 
dreds of fragments of vases of almost every conceivable 
shape and of such various materials as onyx, porphyry, 
sandstone, limestone and alabaster. Many of them con- 
tained inscriptions and curious designs, such as 
dragons, religious processions, deities in a boat, and 
so forth. Numerous objects of ivory and mother-of- 
pearl— fishes, cats, rosettes — partly to be regarded as 
votive offerings and partly merely ornaments alternated 
with inscribed copper tablets, copper spikes terminat- 
ing in little lions, engraved marble slabs and fragments 
of splendidly moulded alabaster cows. 

In a portion of the mounds not far from the temple, 
several thousand clay tablets with inscriptions of the 
oldest period were unearthed which presumably formed 
part of the temple archives. Lastly, the excavations 
also threw further light on the ancient mode of burial 
in Babylonia. Vaulted brick tombs having the appear- 
ance of small houses, on an average six feet long and 
three feet high, were built to receive the dead, who 
were placed on the floor, while along the back wall a 
series of clay pots of various sizes were arranged. 
Beads and copper rings and seal cylinders were also 
found in the graves, showing that the dead were buried 
with their ornaments, while some of the pots may have 



contained food. Banks remarks that these little houses 
of the dead dating, as tablets found in the mound 
proved, from the Hammurapi period, i.e., c. 2000 B.C., 
were not unlike the mounds built over graves in modern 
Mesopotamia. A large number of these vaulted tombs 
were found in close proximity to one another, indicat- 
ing that a portion of the ancient city had been set aside 
as a cemetery. 

In his account 67 he gives some specimens of the 
historical material unearthed by him. Even these few 
specimens furnish names of rulers hitherto unknown, 
and we may therefore look forward to a considerable 
enrichment of our knowledge of the earliest history 
of the Euphrates Valley with the more complete pub- 
lication of the rich finds made by him. 

The last comer on the field of excavations is the 
German Orient Society, which, organized in 1900, has 
the distinction of having conducted its work more thor- 
oughly and more systematically than any of its pre- 
decessors, not even excepting de Sarzec's labors at 
Telloh. The organization of the Society was due largely 
to the distinguished Prof. Friedrich Delitzsch, who has 
done more than any other single individual in training 
a large body of Assyriologists and in arousing popular 
interest in the civilizations that once flourished in the 
Euphrates Valley. Among those whose interest he se- 
cured was the German Emperor, who has been a gen- 
erous supporter of excavations in Babylonia and 
Assyria. The German Orient Society m has not limited 

* 7 Bwmya or the Lost City of Adah (New York, 1912). 

• 8 Accounts of the work are published in the Mitteilungen der 
Deutschen Orientgesellschaft, published at intervals of every two or 
three months, while texts and more detailed reports and investiga- 
tions are given in an important series known as the Wissenschaft- 
licke Veroffentlichungen der Deutschen Orientgesellschaft, of which, 
up to the present, eighteen substantial volumes have been issued. 


its activity to the region of the Euphrates. It has 
carried on work regularly in Egypt, notably at Abusir 
and at El-Amarna, and has also carried on some impor- 
tant explorations in Galilee. Until recently the work 
in Mesopotamia was concentrated on two sites — Kaleh- 
Shergat in the north, representing Ashur, the earliest 
capital of Assyria, and the mounds in the south that 
cover the remains of ancient Babylon. Some work has, 
however, also been done at Fara and Abu Hatab, the 
sites of Shuruppak and Kisurra respectively, and late 
in 1912 work was begun on one of the most important 
ruins of the south, Warka, the name of which still 
preserves the recollection of the city of Erech or Uruk, 
the seat of the cult of the goddess Nana which once 
flourished there. 

The result of fourteen years of steady and uninter- 
rupted excavations has been to reveal in the case of 
Ashur the history of the city from the earliest period, 
c. 2000 B.C., to which it can now be traced back, down to 
the time when it ceased to be the capital of the northern 
empire and even beyond this period, while in the case 
of Babylon the excavations have shown that King 
Sennacherib, of Assyria, did not exaggerate when, in 
his inscriptions, he told us that weary of the frequent 
uprisings in the south against Assyrian control, he 
decided to set an example by completely destroying 
the city of Babylon — razing its large structures to the 
ground and placing the city under water in order to 
make the work of destruction complete. This happened 
in the year 689 B.C. While some remains of the older 
Babylon, chiefly through the discovery of clay tablets 
belonging to earlier periods, have come to light, the 
city unearthed by the German Orient Society is the 
new city, the creation chiefly of Nebopolassar (625-604 
B.C.), the founder of the neo-Babylonian dynasty, and 
of his famous son, the great Nebuchadnezzar II (604- 
561 B.C.). 

At Ashur the walls, quays and fortifications of the 



ancient city have been most carefully arid methodically 
excavated and traced on all sides. Already in the 
earliest days (c. 2000 b.c.) the rulers of the city made 
it their concern to strongly fortify their stronghold, 
and as time went on these fortifications grew in mas- 
siveness and in strength until, in the days of Shal- 
maneser III (858-824 B.C.), they reached their highest 
point of perfection through a series of double walls — 
an inner and an outer one — both solidly built with tur- 
reted tops and eight huge gates forming the entrances 
to the city." 

Within the city, the remains of various palaces dat- 
ing from earlier and later periods and of the chief 
temples of the place as well as considerable portions of 
the residential section of the city and many graves of 
the earliest period were thoroughly explored. The 
method employed by the German explorers, with Walter 
Andrae and Robert Koldewey as the leaders in the 
northern and southern fields of activity respectively, 
was to dig trenches at a distance of a few hundred feet 
apart, and in carrying them down to the lowest stratum, 
carefully to follow any leads furnished in doing so. 
Under such conditions it was hardly possible for any 
noteworthy contents of the mounds to escape detection. 
The moment an important structure was struck, work 
was carried on at that portion of the mound until all 
that remained of it had been thoroughly explored, after 
which the combined architectural, archaeological and 
engineering skill of the exploring party would be 
brought to bear on the study of the remains and in the 
efforts at reconstruction. 

The huge stage-tower attached to the oldest temple 
in Ashur, known as E-kharsag-gal-kurra, "great moun- 
tain house of all lands,' ' and sacred to the chief deity, 

"See W. Andrae 's magnificent work, Die Festungswerke von 
Assur (Leipzig, 1913), 2 vols., with several hundred illustrations 
and plates. 


Ashur, whose name is derived from that of the place, 70 
was uncovered and the foundations of the temple itself 
traced back to a ruler, Ushpia, who still combined in 
his person priestly and civic functions. This temple 
stood near the royal palace, while at some distance away 
was another sanctuary hardly less famous, and which 
is constantly referred to in the annals of the Assyrian 
rulers. It bore a double name — "the temple of Ami 
and Adad" and proved to be a double construction with 
a common exterior court. 11 

With the help of a large number of inscribed bricks 
and clay cylinders found within the temple enclosure, 
we can trace the work done on the structures by the 
many rulers anxious to show their devotion to Anu and 
Adad through additions to the temple or through re- 
pairs. An interesting feature of the cult at Ashur in 
later days as revealed through the excavations," has 
been the finding of a " festival house" referred to in the 
inscriptions of Sennacherib to accommodate the mul- 
titude that made a pilgrimage annually to the sacred 
city to celebrate the New Year's festival — occurring in 
the spring — under the shadow of the temples. 

Besides unearthing various temples and palaces, the 
German expedition has also uncovered a portion of the 
residential quarter of the city and has given us, for the 
first time, a closer view of the manner in which the 
people lived. Entire rows of private houses have been 
dug out ; they were on the whole of a very simple brick 
construction, consisting of one story, and a series of 
rooms grouped around a central court, which was open 
to the sky. Ordinarily the houses were quite small, but 
larger ones have also been found consisting of a large 

70 He is the god of the city of Ashur and then becomes simply 
Ashur. See the writer's article, "The God Ashur/' in the Journal 
of the Am. Or. Soc., 1903, pp. 283-311, 

n See the detailed account in Andrae's Der Anu-Adad Tempel 
(Leipzig, 1909), and see Plate XXXIX, Fig. 1. 

n See MUteUungen der Deutschen Qrientge&elUehaft, Nr. 33. 



outer court, leading into a long room, at the end oi 
which there was a passageway, giving access to an 
inner court around which a large series of rooms, vary- 
ing in size, were grouped, while the back part of the 
house again consisted of a long room like the corre- 
sponding one at the end of the outer court. 

A notable discovery made in the space between the 
outer and inner walls of the city and with which we 
must close our account was that of a large series of 
steles of various material — alabaster, basalt, limestone, 
sandstone and composite material — containing com- 
memorative inscriptions of rulers and their consorts 
and of high officials. 73 No less than 140 of such steles 
were found, many in a fragmentary condition, but 
enough in a sufficiently preserved state to enable us to 
say that these monuments varied in height from about 
six to seven feet. They were generally rounded at the 
fop and some contained, in addition to the commemora- 
tive inscription, a sculptured image of the individual in 
whose honor the monument was erected. The names 
of no less than twenty-five rulers of Assyria are re- 
vealed through these steles. Besides these twenty-five 
rulers, we have steles of three *' ladies of the palace/' 
including the famous Semiramis, who turns out to be 
the ''palace lady" of Shamshi-Adad IV (or V), who 
ruled from 823 to 811, and further designated in the 
accompanying inscription as the mother of King Adad- 
nirari IV (810-782) and the daughter-in-law of Shal- 
maneser III (858-824 B.C.). Of officials represented 
by monuments, the names of forty-four are preserved 
in whole or in part. The monuments of the kings and 
their consorts were found near the inner wall, those of 
the officials near the outer wall. The steles range from 
c. 1400 B.C. to the days of Ashurbanapal (668-626 b.c), 
that is to say within twenty years of the fall of the 
Assyrian Empire. It is evident that these monuments 

72 See the publication of the German Orient Society, by Andrae, 
Die Stelenrcihen in Assur (Leipzig, 1913). 


were erected by the rulers themselves and set up in a 
place of honor, and it is a reasonable conjecture that 
those of the officials were erected by their royal masters 
in recognition of their services to the state or to the 
royal house. There has thus been revealed the custom 
in ancient Assyria of erecting monuments in public 

In Babylon, where the work was conducted chiefly 
under the superintendence of Dr. Robert Koldewey 74 
for an equally long period as at Ashur, the chief efforts 
of the German explorers were directed to the mound 
Kasr, the name of which, viz.: "fortress," preserved 
the tradition of the royal palace built by Nebopolassar 
and considerably enlarged by Nebuchadnezzar, that 
once stood there, and to the mount xVmran, the southern 
of the three mounds which covered the ancient city and 
which proved to be the site of the famous temple, 
E-sagila, "the lofty house," sacred to the chief god of 
Babylon and the head of the Babylonian pantheon after 
the days of Hammurapi, the supreme Marduk. The 
entire foundations of the palace were uncovered, the 
hundreds of rooms that it comprised, traced, and a most 
careful study made of every detail that was brought to 
light. Of great importance were the discoveries made 
in the space between the palace and the chief temple. 
A sacred procession street was laid bare, a via sacra 
built high above the low houses of the city and along 
which the images of the numerous gods and goddesses, 
who formed a court around Marduk, were carried in 
procession on festive occasions, and more particularly 
on the New Year's day, which was the most solemn 
occasion of the year. The walls along this street were 
lined with glazed tiles representing a series of lions, 
surmounted by rows of rosettes and other ornamental 

T4 See the summary of the results by Koldewey, Das Wieder- 
Erstehende Babylon (Leipzig, 1913). English translation by Agnes 
S. Johns, under the title, The Excavations at Babylon (London, 


designs. The street was paved with large blocks of a 
composite material and contained at frequent intervals 
a dedicatory inscription indicating the name of the 
street as u Aibur-shabu/' "may the enemy not wax 
strong/' and the name of the builder as the great 
Nebuchadnezzar. 70 A magnificent gateway, known as 
the Ishtar gate and consisting of an outer and inner 
gate, formed the approach to the street. The six square 
towers of the gateway contained on all sides a series of 
glazed tiles with alternate representations of horned 
dragons and unicorns, so arranged that a group of 
dragons running as a pattern around the four sides of 
the tower was succeeded by a group of unicorns 
similarly arranged. It was found that there were 
eighteen such alternate groups, one above another* The 
effect of these brilliantly illuminated high facings of 
the towers must have been superb (see Plate XXXVII). 
Surrounding the chief temple to Marduk that was 
uncovered beneath the mound Amran, stood numerous 
smaller temples and shrines in honor of the many gods 
and goddesses who were worshipped at Babylon and 
whose relationship to Marduk was that of members of 
the royal family, ministers and courtiers to the king, 
as the supreme chief. Nebuchadnezzar, in his inscrip- 
tions, enumerates some forty such structures within 
the sacred precinct which, from the name of Marduk *s 
temple, was known as Ensagila. Unfortunately the con- 
dition in which these temples were found was most 
lamentable, so that little of their decoration and of their 
varied contents could be determined. Lastly, as at 
Ashur, a great part of the efforts of the expedition was 
directed to tracing the walls — the outer and inner walls 
— and the extensive fortifications of the city as begun 
by the founder of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty and con- 

T6 See Koldewey, Die Pflastersteine von Aiburschahu (Leipzig, 




tinned by his great son. 76 Quite a number of inscrip- 
tions have been found in connection with the temples, 
and also several hundred business documents, chiefly 
of the Persian period, but there is every reason to be- 
lieve that the soil still holds quantities of literary treas- 
ures from the archives of the great Marduk temple, 
which even in the neo-Babylonian period must have 
been extensive. 

Extending their activities to Borsippa— close to 
Babylon, but on the other side of the Euphrates— the 
German expedition has been successful in coming 
across the chief temple, E-zida, "the legitimate house/ 1 
sacred to Nabu, the son of Marduk, and in tracing the 
outlines and interior arrangement of that edifice which 
played a part only second in importance to that of 

»E-sagila, in Babylon. 
Here we may rest our survey of the work done at 
the mounds. The seventy years intervening between the 
first larger efforts inaugurated by Botta and the present 
date have been marked, as we have seen, by a truly 
astonishing activity on the part of English, French, 
American and German explorers, as a result of which 
many of the most important sites of Babylonia and 
Assyria have been laid bare, and a large number of 
others, though only partially excavated, have been 
identified. Palaces and temples, towers and archives, 
private houses and graves, walls and fortifications have 
been dug up from beneath the mounds so that we are 
in a position to reconstruct the appearance that the 
ancient cities of the south and north must have pre- 
sented. An enormous amount of archaeological ma- 
terial in the form of sculptured reliefs, statues, pottery 
of all kinds, jewelry, instruments, thousands of seal 
cylinders with designs representing adoration scenes, 
sacrificial scenes, illustrations from myths, etc., works 
of art of all kinds have been secured through which we 

™ See Koldewey, Die Tempel van Babylon und Borsippa (Leip- 
zig, 1911). 



are enabled to fill out the picture of the civilization of 
the Euphrates and Tigris with innumerable details. We 
can follow their methods of warfare, their daily Hfe, 
the construction of their public and private buildings, 
their ideals of art and their religious beliefs. Still 
more extensive and even more valuable as furnishing 
the key to an understanding and full appreciation of 
those ancient civilizations is the yield through the ex- 
cavations of inscribed material — inscriptions on bas- 
reliefs, statues, votive offerings and other monuments 
— and of the tens of thousands of clay tablets of all 
periods from the earliest to the latest, forming the busi- 
ness and legal records of the temple administration, 
and of private transactions of all kinds, and lastly the 
literary collection of some thirty thousand tablets or 
fragments of tablets, found in the royal palace at 
Nineveh, supplemented by thousands of tablets, like- 
wise with literary contents, discovered among the re- 
mains of archives of the temples of the south. These 
invaluable treasures scattered throughout the public 
and private museums of Europe and America have for 
the greater part been made accessible through publica- 
tions, and as new material is found it is published as 
speedily as possible. Through the interpretation of 
this inscribed material — the oldest portion written in 
characters approaching the picture stage of writing, 
but soon yielding to a cursive style in which the original 
pictures assume the form of wedges — the work of re- 
covering the lost story of Babylonia and Assyria has 
been supplemented and completed. 


The question may now be asked, how was it made 
possible to read the wedge-shaped characters found on 
the monuments, votive offerings and the tablets? When 
Pietro della Valle ' brought specimens of the writing 
to Europe, it was the first time that such characters 
which did not resemble any known alphabet were seen 
by European scholars. They seemed so strange that it 
is scarcely surprising that some scholars 2 questioned 
whether they stood for real writing or were not merely 
ornamental decorations. The excavations in the mounds 
of Babylonia and Assyria proved conclusively that 
cuneiform or wedge-shaped writing was the general and 
only script used in the region. The strange script, how- 
ever, was not limited to Babylonia and Assyria. In 
fact, the first specimens to reach Europe, copied, as we 
have seen, 3 by Pietro della Valle, came from a place that 
lay outside of the Euphrates Valley, and it was on 
cuneiform inscriptions of this type that the first 
attempts at decipherment were made. Delia Valle, as 
well as other travellers, had passed in their travels the 
chief sites of the old Persian Empire and were particu- 
larly impressed by the tombs and the remains of great 
structures still standing at Persepolis, the name of 
which (" Persian city") preserved the tradition that it 
was one of the political centres in the days of the great 
Persian kings. Here at least there was a definite start- 
ing-point. If cuneiform inscriptions were found on 

1 Above, p. 12, Wg< 

2 Among them the famous Thomas Hyde, Eistoria Religionis 
irtmun. Pirsarum, etc., (Oxford, 1700), p. 527, S. S. Witte, 
Professor at Rostock University as late as 1799. 

■ Above, p. 12. See Plate XIX, Pig. 1. 


monuments erected by Persian rulers, the conclusion 
was obvious that the characters represented the ancient 
Persian language which was the official speech of the 
empire, At Persepolis it was not necessary to dig below 
the surface to come across remains of Persian days. 
The ruins of a great palace were still standing.* A large 
number of high and beautiful columns were still in 
place, and by their help one could trace the general 
divisions of the structure of which they formed a part. 
Besides the columns and portions of walls, sculptured 
monuments of various kinds were scattered about, be- 
sides magnificently decorated tombs cut in the rocks 
that surrounded the city. These well preserved monu- 
ments were covered with the wedge-shaped characters. 
An English traveller, Herbert, 6 was among the first, 
towards the close of the seventeenth century, to give an 
account of the strange writing which he (like della 
Valle) correctly conjectured was to be read from left 
to right, and he also concluded that the writing repre- 
sented the language spoken by the Persians, He de- 
spaired, however, of the hope of the writing ever being 
deciphered unless (as he says) by another Daniel who 
was able to read the mystic writing on the wall of 
Belshazzar's palace. 

In 1711 the first complete inscription from Persepolis 
was reproduced by a French traveller, the Chevalier 
Chardin, from which it should have been evident that 
although the characters always had the form of wedges, 
still the combinations ivaried considerably and that 
there were in reality three quite distinct styles of cunei- 
form writing on the rocks and monuments of Perse- 
polis. Although a number of intrepid travellers and 

* See the illustrations in Stolze, Persepolis (Berlin, 1882). 

1 In his Some- Years' Travels into Divers Paris of Africa and 
Asia the Great (London, 1677) t p. 141, seq. 

• Voyages de Monsieur le Chevalier Chardin, en Perse ei autres 
IAeux de VOrient (Amsterdam, 1711), 3 vols. 



careful observers like Engelfoert Kaempfer 7 and 
Comelis de Bruin 8 examined the inscriptions, it was 
not, however, until the second half of the eighteenth 
century that Carsten Niebuhr, whom we have already 
come across 9 and who copied more of the inscriptions 
than any of his predecessors, recognized the fact of 
three distinct varieties of the cuneiform characters at 
Persepolis, varying in the complexity of the combina- 
tions of the wedges. Though distinguishing these three 
varieties as Classes I, II and III, Niebuhr did not draw 
the further conclusion that the varieties represented 
three distinct languages, but supposed all three to be 
the same language, written in a threefold form. He 
even correctly analyzed the characters in Class I as 
consisting of forty-two signs and concluded that this 
form represented an alphabetic method of writing. 10 
On the basis of Niebuhr 's work, two scholars who were 
trained philologists proceeded to make the first at- 
tempts at decipherment Tychsen M drew the correct 
conclusion that the three varieties represented three 
distinct languages. He furnished a tentative transla- 
tion of one of the smaller inscriptions of Class I which, 

T He embodied the results of his travels in a Latin work pub- 
lished in 1712, with a long title, Amcenitatum exoticarum politico- 
physico-mcdicarum fasciculi quinti, (Lemgo), Kempfer was the 
first to apply the term cuneiform (" wedge-shaped 1 *) to the 

• Voyages de Corneille h Brun par la Moscovie, en Perse et aux 
Indes Orientates (Amsterdam, 1718), 2 vols. [French translation 
from the Dutch edition of 1714.] 

9 See above, p. 13. 

10 In Vol. II of Carsten Niebuhr 's Reisebeschreibung nack Ara- 
bien und andern umliegcnden Ldndern, completed after his death 
by his son (1774-1837, Copenhagen, 3 vols.), will be found his 
account of his investigations of the monuments of Persepolis. 

"Olav Gerhard Tychsen, De citncatia inscriptiotiibus Perse- 
politanis lucubratio (Rostock, 1798). 



however, was pure guesswork, and turned out to be 
entirely erroneous, except for the fact that he correctly 
assumed a certain character to represent the vowel a. 
Tychsen proceeded on the erroneous assumption that 
the buildings and inscriptions at Persepolis dated from 
the late Persian dynasty, known as the Parthian, in the 
third century of our era. But for this error, he might 
have made further progress in the decipherment. The 
correct identification of the remains at Persepolis with 
the Achaemenian kings of Persia in the sixth and fifth 
centuries before our era was made by a contemporary 
of Tychsen, Prof. Friedrich Miinter of Copenhagen, 
who instituted a comparison between the monuments at 
Persepolis and those at Naksh-i-Rustam, which the re- 
searches of a famous orientalist, Sylvestre de Sacy, had 
shown to be the tombs of kings of the Arsacidian 
dynasty. The result was to establish the identity of the 
art at Persepolis and Naksh-i-Rustam, further rein- 
forced by the occurrence of the same fabulous animals 
or symbols on the monuments of both places. The art 
was distinctly Persian, as were the costumes and orna- 
ments on the figures at Persepolis. Miinter made some 
further progress also in unraveling the mystery of the 
inscriptions. He recognized that a diagonal wedge 
occurring constantly in the inscriptions of Class I was 
a word separator, a clue that proved to be of the greatest 
possible value, since it enabled scholars to definitely 
fix the beginning and end of each word. Another sug- 
gestion thrown out by Miinter, that a series of seven 
characters occurring in all inscriptions stood for the 
word king, was finally rejected by him, though the con- 
jecture proved to be correct. 

Fortunately, not long before the time that Tychsen 
and Miinter were groping their way in the dark, a 
French scholar, Anquetil-Duperron, was busy in the 
East collecting manuscripts of the Avesta, the sacred 
writings of Zoroastrianism, and through native Parsi 



priests was learning how to read the characters and to 
interpret the contents of the sacred books. 12 

Through the publication of his material, scholars 
had before them specimens of the language employed 
in the days of the Persian rulers. The characters used 
in the Avestan manuscripts were, however, totally dif- 
ferent from those found on the Persepolitan inscrip- 
tions ; they represented a cursive alphabet that probably 
had its origin in India and was adapted to the old 
Persian language. To be sure it subsequently turned 
out that the Avestan books represented a compilation 
covering a long period of gradual growth and that even 
the oldest portion could not be earlier than the fourth 
century, while the introduction of the Avestan alphabet 
could not have taken place before the third century. 
We were, therefore, still some distance from the time 
of the earliest Achaemenian rulers, but close enough to 
warrant the assumption that the language of the Avesta 
was practically identical with that spoken by Cyrus and 
his successors. The task of scholars, therefore, lay in 
attempts to recognize in the wedge-shaped characters 
the consonants and vowels corresponding to the signs 
for these in the Avestan alphabet. There was, of 
course, no possible connection between the forms of 
the Avestan and the cuneiform alphabet, but the same 
sounds must be represented in both, and the words 
spelled out in the Persepolitan inscriptions must be 
close enough to such as were furnished by the Avestan 
writings to show that they were genuine Persian words. 
The problem, therefore, resolved itself into a species of 
rebus, somewhat as though one were to write English 
with Sanskrit characters and then to determine by pa- 
tient endeavor the value of the Sanskrit characters so 
as to furnish good English words, and above all, a 
sequence of thought. Simple as this may sound, it 

12 See the account of the beginnings of the history of Avestan 
studies in Darmesteter T s Introduction to his monumental work, 
Le Zend-Avesta (Paris, 1892-1893), 3 vols. 


involved great difficulties because of the imperfect 
knowledge, at the end of the eighteenth century, of the 
Avestan language, the study of which was still in its 
infancy, and because of the puzzling circumstance that 
Class I of the Perse poll tan inscriptions showed forty- 
two characters — too many if each combination of 
wedges represented a single sound, too few if the 
method of writing was syllabic, 13 and not alphabetical. 
Now in many of the inscriptions from Persepolis 
it was observed that certain words occurred frequently 
in all of them. It could furthermore be concluded on 
the assumption that Class I represented the Persian of 
the days of the Achsemenian kings that the names of the 
rulers should be found on them, and with the naxnea 
also the titles. The next step seemed simple enough— 
to try to fit the sounds composing the names of the 
Persian kings which were known to us from the Old 
Testament, from Herodotus and from other sources to 
the series of characters in the Persepolitan inscriptions 
that might represent proper names. Had Miinter not 
rejected his conjecture that a certain series of char- 
acters stood for the word "king," ll he might have been 
the one to take the next step and to become the de- 
cipherer of the inscriptions. Miinter was led to seek for 
the word for king in the Persepolitan inscriptions by 
the analogy which they presented to those on the royal 
tombs at Naksh-i-Rustam. Greek inscriptions at this 
place by the side of those in the Pehlevi script furnished 
de Sacy, whom we have already mentioned, 15 with the 
clue both to the historical character of the monuments 
and to the decipherment of the Pehlevi script, which 

11 By syllabic is meant the use of a sign to indicate an entire 
syllable j thus ra-ahun-al would be syllabic writing, whereas 
F-a-t-i-o-n-a-1 is alphabetic, while if some picture or a sign derived 
from a picture were used to convey the idea of rational, the writing 
would be ideographic. The sign for dollar is ideographic writing. 

14 See above, p. 66. 

" Memoires sur diverses Antiquites de la Perse (Paris, 1793). 



turned out to be a variety introduced into Persia during 
the rule of the Sassanian kings (227-641 a.d.). The 
Greek inscriptions based on Pehlevi models, of which 
they were in fact translations, revealed a stereotyped 
order of phrases and titles on these monuments. The 
beginning was made with the name of a ruler followed 
by his titles, and these in turn by the name of his father 
with his titles. This gave a form as follows : 

N, great king, king of kings, king of Iran and 
Aniran, son of N, great king, king of kings, 
king of Iran and Aniran. 

With the help of several bilinguals — Greek and Pehlevi 
— de Sacy, through fitting the proper names on to the 
characters, the position of which could be determined 
by the place occupied by proper names in the Greek 
translation, succeeded in determining the characters 
of the Pehlevi alphabet, while as soon as he was able 
to read words, the practical identity with the older 
Persian, now revealed through the researches of 
AnquetiMhiperron, furnished an unfailing aid in 
recognizing the meaning of the words written in the 
Pehlevi script. Here then a rebus was correctly solved 
— the characters fitted on to the sounds which, since the 
words thus put together were Persian and gave a con- 
nected sense, were shown to be the correct ones. 

Miinter availed himself of de Sacy's results as a 
support for his thesis that the Persepolitan inscrip- 
tions were those of the early Persian kings, but he 
stopped short at this point. Had he clung to his guess 
regarding the combination of signs representing the 
word for king, it would no doubt have occurred to him 
to apply the stereotyped form of the Pehlevi inscrip- 
tions also to the Persepolitan monuments. This step 
was taken by the man who was destined to achieve im- 
mortal fame as the decipherer of the Persian cuneiform 
inscriptions — Georg Friedrich Grotefend (born 1775), 
a teacher of Greek in the gymnasium at Gottingen, who, 


on the fourth of September, 1802, read a paper before 
the Gottingen Academy in which he claimed to have 
found the key to the reading of the inscriptions of 
Class I. The paper, Ifi consisting of three parts, began 
with a general consideration of the three varieties of 
script on the monuments of Persepolis. G rote fend 
showed the definite basis for assuming that the three 
varieties represented three different languages, that the 
variety which occupied the first place when the three 
scripts were written one under the other, or which was 
above the head of a figure — the most prominent place, 
— while the two others were grouped to either side, 
represented the old Persian language spoken in the 
days of the Achaemenian kings (539-331 b.c). If, 
therefore, the first class could be deciphered, it would 
be possible to use the inscriptions of this class as a basis 
for deciphering the other two classes which must repre- 
sent translations of the old Persian into two languages 
that were spoken by the subjects of the Persian Empire. 
A parallel to such a procedure exists to-day in the de- 
crees of Austro-Hungary which are issued in German 
and Hungarian. 17 Class I would serve as the key to 
Classes II and III, just as de Sacy used the Greek 
inscriptions at Naksh-i-Rustam to decipher the accom- 
panying Pehlevi inscriptions — the Greek being a trans- 
lation of the Pehlevi ; and as in the decipherment of the 
Egyptian inscriptions, the Greek translation of the 
hieroglyphic inscription on the stone found at Eosetta 
served as a key to Francois Chanipollion. 1 * Grotefend 
also confirmed the results reached by his predecessors 
that the order of the writing in all three varieties was 

*• The title was Prmvia de cuncatis quas vocani inscriptionibus 
Persepolitanis legendis et explicandis rclatio* 

1T Some of the decrees of the Turkish Empire are similarly issued 
in two languages, Turkish and Arabic. 

18 See Steindorff in Hilprecht's Explorations in Bible Lands, 
p. 629 seq. The Itosetta stone also contained a version in the late 
demotic script of Egypt. 

_ . ^3 _ jfi&Jtgir 

TT-rfT .EH<r.^XTT. 5 S X<lT.^.M.T<e.T<? : Tt. Tfyv 

_ ,r . , „- -^^ . m — =: = = rrrz — : *;—* ^^, w. — — -5 — —-7- ^kt ■? 

i?.<K.Tf.<ir.K.m r w fgg .mi*-, f .<K.T<F 




s rg . &<.^ a . ^ . t^t 


V.^.^.^T.^W.V.X-.^ V^? 

TM.5WI .ht^ : t^ . g 

■ T.W.W fcT."t.> ,^,<K^ 

Y.5fT.U.HV fl.S*.ff-.5MI 

J^TI MTK.Mt .ti . < . ^Tf . 1 .-nK.Tfl . V . 

^.^FT.X.TfT^ :TTTMfcT[Y.£^.^ J .Yifc.T 

^r . & tm.Kn .*< ,^T . K^aJfi . ■£¥ , ff , -ei 

!►>-< £T ,T . <££. ^it.^T . it. *f . T ; V . 

^^£-^T:* <eXWV , 



-^ >sht -r w-,»sa'h.feTifc.iKrT-!!^¥ 

w®^^XM.\<w.^mm^.^\>m* i t.& 

T^«(T.?<.in.T^<l.Tr.H-.v«[t.«.¥. Tf T<T . fr. T<r. ftr" 


, ^.^<^?TA.f<W.^<K.<^.m^Klk<.^.K-A 




)m left to right and that the lines followed horizon- 
tally and not vertically, 18 or in boustrophedon fashion, 30 
as some scholars had maintained. In one deduction 
Grotefend erred, though fortunately it did not affect 
his key which he applied merely to Class I. He main- 
tained that all three varieties of cuneiform writing 
represented an alphabetical script, not therefore ideo- 
graphic like the Chinese, nor syllabic like the Japanese. 
He was right so far as Class I was concerned, but wrong 
as to the other two classes which turned out to be partly 
ideographic and partly syllabic. 

Coming in the second part of his paper to the in- 
scriptions of Class I, he picked out of the forty-two 
characters comprising the script, eight which occurred 
with great frequency (and two or more of which ap- 
peared in every word) and concluded that they were 
vowels. Availing himself at this point of the stereo- 
typed form of the Pehlevi inscriptions of Naksh-i-Rus- 
tam and concluding that the Sassanian rulers followed 
in this respect the model of the old Persian kings whose 
realm they had taken over, lie proceeded to pick out the 
proper names in the Persepolitan inscriptions of which 
one ought therefore to be found at the beginning and 
another somewhat further on — the name with which 
the inscription began being that of the one who is com- 
memorated by the monument, and the other the name 
of the father. 

In the third part of his paper he took up two of 
the short inscriptions that had been copied and pub- 
lished by Niebuhr and which, in his publication, were 
numbered B and G, the former consisting of six lines, 
the latter of four lines. The analogy with the Pehlevi 
inscriptions led liim to look for the word king, which 
ought to follow the name at the beginning of the in- 
scription, and should appear several times even in a 

lf Like the Chinese. 

10 One line from left to right, the next from right to left, and bo 
alternately, as in the case of Hittite inscriptions. 



short inscription. The diagonal wedge which Miint 
had conjectured to be a word separator, made it easj 
to pick out a series of characters constituting a word, 
and it was not long before Grotefend hit upon seven 
characters occurring just where one would expect the 
word for king. These signs were 

From the dictionary which AnquetilDuperron had 
compiled for his Avestan texts, the word for king was 
given as Khsheio." Now some of the seven characters 
composing the word for king occurred in the series of 
characters that constituted the first word in each of the 
two inscriptions, and which, on the analogy of the 
Pehlevi, ought to be a proper name. Grotefend 's next 
task, therefore, was to study the characters composing 
these two names carefully. They must, of course, 
conceal the names of old Persian rulers, known to us, 
as has been indicated, 22 from various sources. Grote- 
fend observed that in the inscriptions of Persepolis at 
his disposal, there were only two varying series of char- 
acters constituting the beginning of the inscriptions, 
which meant that all the inscriptions proceeded from 
two rulers or, at all events, from rulers whose names 
alternated between X and Y. Taking up now the two 
inscriptions — B and G — selected by him, he found the 
proper name in B to consist of seven characters as 
follows : 

and in G also of seven characters 

n Be it noted once for all that kh and eh in the transliteration 
of oriental languages represent a single sound and in a scientific 
transliteration are given as h and s. For the sake of convenience 1 
retain kh and ah. 

" Above, p. 68. 



He further noted in G the occurrence of the same name 
with which B begins, forming, to wit, the second series 
of characters in the third line. 23 The analogy with the 
Pehlevi inscriptions made it certain that the king rep- 
resented by this series of characters was the father of 
the one whose name appeared at the beginning of G. 
In other words, if we designate the proper name with 
which inscription B begins as X, and the one with which 
G begins as Y, we would have the relationship 

Y is the son of X, 

Both X in inscription B, as well as Y and X in inscrip- 
tion G, were followed by the same series of characters 
that had been conjectured to represent the word for 
king. Grotefend could therefore go a step further and 
read in G 

Y king son of X king. 

The three characters following the group X king in the 
fourth line of G (after the word separator) Grotefend, 
after the analogy of the Pehlevi inscriptions, assumed 
to be the word for son. Searching for these signs in 
inscription B, he found them in line five immediately 
after the word separator, which closed the word run- 
ning over from line four. 24 Hence he concluded that 
the name of X's father should be found before these 
signs for son. It was at this juncture that his keen 
ingenuity showed itself. In G the name of X, the father 
of Y, was followed by the characters for king. He 
could not find these characters in line four of inscrip- 
tion B and therefore concluded that the ten characters 

" There was, to be sure, one character — the sixth — not found in 
the series at the beginning of B, but Grotefend at once concluded 
that this variation was due to the fact that the name in G stood in 
the genitive, whereas in B in the nominative. 

* 4 The Persian scribes, depending upon the diagonal wedge as 
the word separator, did not hesitate to allow a word to run over 
from one line to the other. 



preceding the series "son" in B (beginning in line four 
and running over into line fire) represented the name 
of X's father, and that this personage was not a king. 
This could only mean that X was the founder of a 
dynasty — not, therefore, himself of royal descent. If 
we call this group of ten characters Z. we would there- 
fore hare two series: 

. .son of Z. 
.son of X king, 

In inscription B: X king. . 
In inscription G: Y king. . 

which gives us the order 

Z, X, Y = grandfather, father, son. 

Now in the lists of the rulers of Persia " there were 
during the first period two dynasties, (1) the one 
founded by Cyrus who was succeeded by his son 
Cambyses (539-522 B.C.), (2) a second founded by 
Darius I, succeeded by his son Xerxes I and grandson 
Artaxerxes I (522-424 B.C.). Then came an usurper, 
Xerxes II, who ruled for forty-five days, followed by 
Darius II, whose son, grandson and great-grandson 
followed one another, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes III 
and Arses (424-336 B.C.), after which came Darius III 
(336-331 B.c), who succumbed in 331 b.c. to Alexander 
the Great. Grotefend thus had a choice for Z, X, Y 

(a) the father of Cyrus, Cyrus himself and Cam- 
byses, or (b) Hystaspes (the father of Darius), 
Darius himself and Xerxes, or (c) the father of 
Darius II, Darius II and Artaxerxes II. The first 
case was ruled out by the circumstance that the 
names of Cyrus and Cambyses began with the same 
letter, whereas X and Y began with different char- 
acters. X and Y would therefore turn out to be either 
Darius and Xerxes, or Darius II and Artaxerxes II. 
The latter alternative, if correct, would involve that 

*• See the list in Jastrow, Aspects of Belief and Practice in 
Babylonia and Assyria, p, 448. 



le name Y as the son of X should be longer than X. 
Both X and Y, however, consisted of the same number 
of characters, namely seven. Grotefend was thus 
thrown back on the second of the three possibilities, 
Darius and Xerxes, as the one fitting the required con- 
ditions. Taking up his three names once more, he 
observed that the first two characters of Y corresponded 
to the first two characters in the series that represented 
the word "king," which being, as we have seen, Khsheio, 
showed that these two characters must stand for the 
sound kh and sh respectively. King Y therefore bore a 
name beginning with The fourth and the seventh 
character in this name was the one which, because of its 
frequency, Grotefend assumed to represent the vowel 
a or e, while the sixth sign was again the sign sh. He 
thus could read the name partially as 

IK. »H. . . B . . SH. ■ 

Completing the word for king in the series of seven 
characters, he assigned values tentatively as follows : 

«n£ fit KvW.ff.K* 

eh »h «." nV i." o. n 

which was certainly close enough to the form Khsheio 
to justify Grotefend *s confidence in Ms method. Pro- 
ceeding to compare the signs composing the name of 
King X with those in the word for king, he could read 
three of the seven characters as follows; 


*■ Grotefend, as occasion required, assigned the value d or i to 
this sign. It turned out that the value was always a, 
* T This was subsequently shown to be ya. 
m Subsequently shown to be t. 


Now the Old Testament form of the name Darius (oc- 
curring in the Book of Daniel), which would be nearer 
to the original pronunciation of it than the Graecizcd 
form Dareios, was Daryawesh. It was, therefore, like 
fitting on a rebus to assign the value d to the first sign 
and r to the third, which gave him 

d.a.r.h. . . .sh 

All that was needed was to assume the value e and u for 
the fifth and sixth characters to obtain the full name 

O A a B ■ V « 

The assigning of the value r to the third character was 
confirmed by the occurrence of the same character as 
the fifth in the name Y, while the value // occurring as 
the fourth character in the scries for "king" and in the 
name X also fitted in with Y, though it ultimately 
proved to be erroneous. He thus could read Y as 

Kb. hb. a. a.** b. an. ■ 

which could very well be the original form of a Persian 
name distorted by the Greeks to Xerxes. 30 

Passing to the name of the father of Darius, his 
decipherment of Darius and Xerxes gave him the values 
of the third, fifth, ninth and tenth characters as 

RTT.SC. «=1rT .TIT .IMF. <W .F4-.TR 

■B. A. (. . B. ■) 

The eighth because of its frequent occurrence he as- 

*• Or a. Note that in this name the third sign has an additional 
horizontal stroke and that the fifth sign lacks a third horizontal 
stroke — <lue to slight defects in Xiebuhr's copies which were easily- 
recognized as such by scholars. 

10 In Babylonian inscriptions the name appears as Khishiarshi, 
which is quite close to the correct Persian form Khshayarsha. 



ramed to be also the vowel a. 81 The Greek form of 
Darius' father was Hystaspis, but several other forma 
were known from various sources, including Goshtasp 
or Gushtasp and Vishtaspo. Grotefend assumed the 
original consonant to have been g 33 and, accordingly, 
he supplied the values for the remaining characters 
as g for the first, o for the second, t for the fourth, s for 
the sixth, p for the seventh, and thus obtained the 

O. O. IH. T. A. ■. P. U. a. ■) 

He had thus succeeded in puzzling out three proper 
names and the word for king; he could feel tolerably 
certain that he had correctly identified the two kings, 
Darius and his son, Xerxes, as the authors of the two 
inscriptions. It was subsequently shown that he had 
erred in a number of the values assigned by him to the 
fourteen signs, but the way had been opened for further 

Taking up the two inscriptions B and G for further 
comparison, he noticed that the third word in both was 
the same. The analogy with the stereotyped form of 
the Pehlevi inscriptions suggested that this word was 
an adjective like "great," descriptive of the preceding 
word king. The fourth and fifth words likewise agreed 
in both B and G. The former was again the word for 
king, while the latter was king, plus four signs, which 
indicated some form of this word. The stereotyped 
form of the Pehlevi inscriptions read : X king great, 
king of kings. Grotefend assumed the same model for 

11 It turned out to be h. 

" It turned out to be v, the form Vishtaspo, found in Zend liter- 
ature, being closer to the original than the late form Gushtasp or 
Goshtasp. The three additional signs (8, 9, 10) a, b, e, Grotefend 
regarded as an attached ending. 



the Persepolitan inscriptions, which enabled him to 
read B as 

Darius, great king, king of kings 
and G as 

Xerxes, great king, king of kings. 

Then followed in G the name Darius with the word 
king, and thirdly, the series of signs which, occurring 
in both inscriptions, he had assumed to be the word for 
son, with the preceding name in the genitive. 33 He 
thus could read all of G except the last word, as 

Xerxes, great king, king of kings, 

son of Darius king, 34 

In B there were five words which he could not deter- 
mine by this process. 

Darius, great king, king of kings, 

king 3r> son of Goshtaspa (i.e., Hystaspis) 




As for the values of the word for son and the plural of 
the word for kings, some of the signs had already 
occurred in the proper names. So in the three signs 

which he had identified as son, the middle one was the 
character to which, in the name of Darius, he had given 
the value u. Prompted by the existence of a word 
"bun" in Pehlevi in the sense of offspring, his guess of 
b or p for the first sign of the word for son was cor- 
rect, 87 his conjecture for the third as n was far off, 

33 Indicated by the three additional signs a, h, e, as in the ease 
of Goahtasp. 

" Of the last word consisting of nine signs he could read a . kh . a 
.,— i.e. t all except the fourth and fifth. 

■* G did not have the signs for king at this point. 

•• Four words of which the first was identical with the last word 
in G. 

87 The same as the seventh sign in Goahtasp. The correct 
reading of the word for son was putra, identical with the Zend word. 



since the correct reading was shown by Sir Henry Raw- 
linson, in 1847, to be tr. Similarly his supposition for 
the second and fourth signs of the ending added to king 
— indicating the plural — as $ and o were both wrong. A 
Danish scholar, Rask, in 1826, correctly determined the 
values as n and m respectively. Nor did Grotefend have 
more success in his attempt to read the additional words 
in B or the last word in G. There was thus still much 
left to do before it could be said that a firm basis had 
been secured for the decipherment of the Persepolitan 

Grotefend 's method had been successful in deter- 
mining with tolerable certainty the reading of the 
three proper names, but when he attempted to read 
other words, he floundered about and generally went 
wrong. The errors made by Grotefend were seized 
upon as a basis of attack, and only scant acknowledg- 
ment was made of his success in identifying the three 
proper names. The Gottingen Academy published 
merely an extract of his attempt at decipherment in 
1802, 3 * and it was not until three years later that a fuller 
account of his decipherment appeared as an appendix 
to Heeren's work on the "Politics, Intercourse and 
Trade of the Principal Nations of Antiquity,* ** 
Meantime Grotefend had profited by some of the 
criticism passed on his efforts and had succeeded in 
reading the last word in inscription G, identical with 
the second in line five of B as Ach&menian, so that he 
could read this inscription completely as 

Xerxes, great king, king of kings, son of 
Darius, king, the Achaemenian. 

81 Nicety years later Grotefend 's paper, because of its historic 
interest, was published in full by the Gottingen Academy, together 
with three others subsequently presented by him. See Nachrichten 
d. Kgl. Gesells. d. Wis*. 1893, No. 14, pp. 573-616. 

*■ Ideen iiber die Politik, den Verfcehr und den Handel der 
vornehmsten Volker der alien Welt, 2ded. (Gottingen, 1805). [Eng- 
lish translation, London, 1854.] 



To have thus determined the ancient designation of 
Aclnemeniau by which all the Persian rulers from 
Cyrus down were known was a considerable step in 

A striking confirmation of Grotefend 's identifica- 
tion of the name of Xerxes was furnished by Saint- 
Martin, in 1823, who took up the fourfold inscription 
on an alabaster vase, published as far back as 1762, 40 and 
which, as now was apparent, contained an inscription 
in the three classes of cuneiform script, besides an 
Egyptian inscription enclosed in a cartouche,. The 
Egyptian name had been read by Champollion as 
iL Xerxes, great king/' and Saint-Martin showed that 
the cuneiform inscription in Class I tallied completely 
with the signs read in inscription G by Grotefend as 
Xerxes, followed by the words fur "king" and "great." 
In this way there was established a mutual confirmation 
of the key to the reading of both the hieroglyphic and 
the old Persian inscriptions. Other Oriental philolo- 
gists now took up the task. A Banish scholar, Rask, 
in a study on the Zend language, 41 showed its affilia- 
tion to Sanskrit, though a separate language and quite 
as old as Sanskrit, and that it was closely related to the 
language of the Persepolitan inscriptions, as Grotefend 
had indeed assumed. He was able to correct Grote- 
fend *s reading of the genitive plural attached to the 
word for "king," and thus at one stroke definitely de- 
termined the correct value of two signs (m and n) that 
had not occurred in proper names. His philological 
training also enabled him to prove that each sign in 
Class I could have only a single value and not, as Grote- 
fend supposed, more than one. The establishment of 
this principle marked a forward step in determining 

40 By A. de Caylus in his Recueil d'Antiquites Egy-pticnnes, etc., 
vol. v., (Paris, 1762), p. 79, seq. t and Plate XXX. 

41 Observations sur Em alphabets Zend et Pehlevi (Journal 
Asiatique, 1823, vol. ii, pp. 143-150), followed by a more elaborate 
work in 1826. 



le signs in this class that stood for vowels. Further 
progress in the study of old Persian, or Zend as it was 
at that time called, was made by the most eminent 
Persian scholar of his day, Eugene Boumouf, of Paris. 
As a result 42 he could correct Grotefend's reading of 
the word for "great 1 ' following that of king and he 
determined the values of two more signs, k and z, while 
Saint-Martin, whose name has already been mentioned, 
correctly assumed that Vishtaspa was an older form 
than Goshtasp for Hystaspis, and correctly read the 
initial sign of the cuneiform form of the name as v 
instead of g. A further advance was signalled by the 
ippearance of a comprehensive work, in 1836, on the 
old Persian inscriptions (as the monuments of Class I 

rere henceforth to be called), by a German Orientalist, 
Christian Lassen. 43 Examining anew the basis of the 
lecipherment so far as it had proceeded, he confirmed 

le identification of the proper names as made by 

Jrotefend, but showed that the word for "king" and 
for the plural, while correctly guessed by Grotefend, 

lad been incorrectly read. 44 In all, seven signs were 
sorrectly determined by Lassen's researches, so that 
next to Grotefend, of whose identifications eleven were 
definitely accepted, he has a larger share to his credit 
than any other of the early decipherers. 

A result, however, of Boumouf *s and Lassen's ae- 
rate studies was to show that, while it was tine, as 

task had maintained, that each sign had only one value, 
the reverse of the proposition that a single letter was 

(represented by one sign was not true. Thus, three 
signs having the value d had been found, two for g, 

** Commeniaire sur le Yagna, (Paris, 1833) and Memoir e sur 
deux Inscriptions Cuneiformes (Paris, 1836). 

** Die Keilinschriften von Persepolis (Bonn, 

"Instead of, it should be read 
t.i.ia — the fifth sign being t and the sixth i, besides ta instead of 
h for the fourth and seventh signs. 



two for k, three for m and two for n, r and t If the 
cuneiform script of Class I was an alphabetic form of 
writing, what could this mean? The solution of the 
problem was due to the combined efforts of three 
scholars, Edward Hincks, Sir Henry Rawlinson and 
Jules Oppert,* 5 who definitely established the fact that 
the use of signs having the same consonantal value 
differed according to the vowel that followed. So the 
one form of d, g, k, m, n occurred only in case the follow- 
ing sign was the vowel a, whereas the other sign for d 
and m was used before the vowel i, the third sign for d 
and m and the alternate one for g, k, n, r before the 
vowel u, while in the case of the two signs for t, one was 
used before a or i and the other before u. 

Before leaving the subject a few words must be said 
of Sir Henry C. Rawlinson, who in many respects was 
the most remarkable of the early decipherers, not even 
excluding Grotefend. While in the service of the 
English army 46 in Persia, his attention was directed 
to the cuneiform inscriptions scattered throughout the 
country.* 7 He copied some of them and began to study 
the strange looking characters. He prepared a list of 
the signs used and without even knowing of the work 
of Grotefend, de Sacy, Saint-Martin, Rask, Bournouf 
and Lassen, started in the year 1835 to decipher the 
proper names in the shorter inscriptions. Uncon- 
sciously he followed exactly the same method as Grote- 

i5 The papers of Hincks on the subject, were published in the 
Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy for 1846-1847 j those of 
Rawlinson in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1846- 
1851; while Oppert's work on Das Lautsystem des Altpcrsischen 
appeared in Berlin in 1847. 

48 See A Memoir of Major-General Sir Henry Crcswicke Rawlin- 
son, (London, 1898) by his brother, George Rawlinson. 

tT Besides Persepolis, trilingual inscriptions showing the same 
three classes of cuneiform script had been discovered at Elvend, 
Hamadan, Murgab, Mesdjid, Mader-i-Suleiman, Naksh-i-Rustam, 
in addition to the large one on the rock at Behistun. See page 83. 



fend, and by a strange coincidence the first three names 
read by him were Darius, Xerxes and Hystaspis. The 
key to the decipherment of Class I was thus actually 
found twice, though the credit as the pioneer belongs 
to Grotefend. Rawlinson realized that in order to de- 
termine the full syllabary, that is to identify all of the 
forty-two characters used in Class I, a study of a large 
number of proper names was required. He, therefore, 
devoted his special attention to a long inscription cut 
into a rock at Behistim on the high road leading from 
Perscpolis westwards into the Euphrates Valley. 
While the inscriptions found elsewhere were brief, con- 
sisting of from 4 to 7 or 8 lines, this one contained some 
400 lines in each of the three varieties of the cuneiform 
script. The task of copying this remarkable document, 
on a rock that rose several hundred feet above the 
road, was in itself a testimony to Rawlinson 's skiU and 
endurance. The inscription proved to have been placed 
there by King Darius, who recorded on it in an im- 
pressive manner his suppression of rebellions, his con- 
quests of numerous peoples and other achievements of 
his reign. 48 There were indications that the king had 
erected some kind of an ascent to the rock so that 
passers-by might mount to see it, but all traces of such 
an approach had disappeared, Rawlinson had to con- 
struct a scaffold to reach the inscription and at certain 
portions of the rock was suspended by a rope so as to 
obtain as complete a copy as possible. 

Here he had an inscription with several hundred 

49 In 1907, Messrs. King and Thompson published the standard 
edition of Sculptures and Inscription of Darius the Great on the 
Rock of Behistun, in Persia, with the complete text of all three classes 
of the inscription, together with transliteration, translation and com- 
mentary. At the head of the inscription, the king has portrayed 
himself, surmounted by the symbol of his god, Ahura Mazda, in the 
act of receiving as prisoners a series of nine usurpers to the throne, 
whom he had succeeded in overthrowing. 



names of places that could be picked out. By dint of 
great perseverance he managed to read and identify 
with the help of classical writers and mediaeval geog- 
raphers a number of such names, which furnished him 
with the values of no less than 18 additional signs. By 
the year 1839 he was able to read 200 lines of the 
Persian text of the Behistun inscription. Rawlinson 
thus worked out for himself the entire syllabary of the 
old Persian cuneiform script through the identification 
of the proper names in the Behistun inscription. 48 That 
his conclusions, independently reached and without Iris 
ever knowing of the work done by others, agreed in 
almost all particulars with the results obtained through 
the combined efforts of Orotefend, Saint-Martin, Bask, 
Bournouf, Lassen, Kincks and Oppert was a guarantee 
of their reasonableness and helped to inspire confidence 
in the method pursued. After the first steps had been 
taken by Rawlinson, and he learned of what the scholars 
of Europe were doing, he entered into correspondence 
with them, more particularly with Bournouf and 

40 To make the method pursued by Rawlinson clear, let me re- 
mind the reader of the illustrations given above, p. 76, of names of 
persons which could be identified when a few of the letters com- 
prising the name could be read. Similarly in the case of names of 
places. When, e.g., through having deciphered the names of Darius 
and Xerxes the signs for d, r, u and a had been ascertained, it was 
a comparatively simple matter to complete a name written with 
seven characters 

. .u.d.r.a.... 

by supplying m as the first letter and filling up the end of the line 
by ya and obtain mudraya which a Byzantine writer gave as the 
equivalent of Egypt and which, moreover, came close to the Arabic 
designation of Misr for Egypt. If, now, the same character to 
which Rawlinson had assigned the value m occurred in another 
proper name, he could readily decide whether the supposition was 
correct. In this way, as in working out a rebus, one conjecture was 
either confirmed or refuted by another* 



Lassen, Rawlinson availed himself of the results of 
Bournouf *s researches which revealed the character of 
the Zend or old Persian language in such a manner as 
to be capable of being utilized in the decipherment of 
the Persian inscriptions. The comparison with San- 
skrit was another aid that secured valuable results, for 
after the real relationship of Zend to Sanskrit had been 
determined M the Sanskrit could be used to settle the 
meaning of words where Zend failed. By such methods 
the guesses and conjectures of the earlier decipher- 
ments were subjected to reliable tests and were con- 
firmed, rejected or modified as the case might be. The 
appearance of Rawlinson 's papers in the Journal of 
the Royal Asiatic Society, 51 therefore, placed the de- 
cipherment on an absolutely sure foundation. The 
"rebus" stage had been definitely passed, and it merely 
remained for the successors of Rawlinson to modify 
some of his results in minor points. In 1862 Prof. 
Friedrich Spiegel's work on the old Persian inscrip- 
tions," giving the text and translations of all the in- 
scriptions of Class I and accompanied by a grammar of 
the language and a glossary, set the coping stone to the 
structure that had been so laboriously constructed 
through the combined efforts of some of the best 
scholars of the day. 

60 Thus, e.g., it was found that * in Sanskrit consistently changed 
to h in Zend and old Persian, Sindhus becoming Hindu in Zend, 
and Hindus, i.e., India, in old Persian; dasyu, "people" in San- 
skrit, was dakyu in Zend and old Persian, etc. It will easily be seen 
how important such a law of consonantal interchange was in inter- 
preting endings to words, as well as words themselves in the Perse- 
politan inscriptions. 

61 Above, p. 82, note 45. 
" Die Altpersischen Kcilinschriften im Orundtexte mit Ueher- 

setzung, Qrammatik und Glossar. A second edition appeared in 
1881. Spiegel also embodied in his work a history of the decipher- 




It was by the roundabout way of the old Persian 
inscriptions that the approach to the decipherment of 
the cuneiform material, found in such abundance 
through the excavations conducted during the past 
seventy years in the mounds covering Babylonian and 
Assyrian cities, was made. Even before Botta 's finds at 
Khorsabad arrived at the Louvre, it was apparent from 
the few specimens of cuneiform inscriptions from the 
Euphrates Valley brought to London by Rich early in 
the nineteenth century," that the script was of the same 
style as Class III on the trilingual inscriptions from 
Perseopolis and neighboring districts. It was some 
time, however, before the obvious conclusion was drawn 
that Class III represented the script and language used 
in Babylonia and Assyria. Grotefend began, in 1814, 
to publish the results of his study of the writing of 
Class III on the few inscriptions that had come from 
Babylonia, but it was not until 1818 that he recognized 
the identity of the two and explained the variations as 
merely incidental— modifications of the same order as 
the differences in handwritings. He also recognized 
the much larger number of combinations of wedges 
forming the signs in Class III and in the inscrip- 
tions from Babylonia. Indeed, by the year 1819 he 
had distinguished no less than 287 signs. For all 
that, he assumed that the Babylonian cuneiform 
also represented, like the Persian variety, an al- 
phabetic script, though with this modification, 
that the sign varied according to the vowel ac- 
companying a consonant. In this way he hoped to 
account for the larger number of signs in Class III as 
against Class I. 

As more and more inscriptions were brought out of 
the mounds at Khorsabad, at Nimrud, at Kouyunjik and 
Kaleh-Shergat and subsequently from the mounds in 

"Above, p. 14. 



the south, the identity of both the Assyrian and Baby- 
lonian varieties of cuneiform characters with Class III 
of the Persepolitan inscriptions was confirmed, and at 
the same time the nature of the variations — entirely 
secondarv in character — came to be better understood. 
There was no longer any doubt that Class III rep- 
resented the variety of cuneiform writing used in 
Babylonia and Assyria and, therefore, also the 
language spoken in these countries. Because of the 
accident that the first large finds were made at north- 
ern mounds, i.e., on the site of Assyrian cities, the 
language of Class III was designated as Assyrian, 
and the science that grew up out of the discoveries 
in the northern and southern mounds, Assyriology. 
Since, however, the north owes her civilization, her 
literature and art largely to the south, it is more 
proper to speak of the language 'as Babylonian or as 
Babylonian- Assyrian. 

That Persian kings should commemorate themselves 
and their deeds in the language of Babylonia and 
Assyria in addition to doing so in the official language 
of the kingdom was quite natural, seeing that the old 
realm of Babylonia and Assyria formed one of the most 
important of the lands conquered by Cyrus and re- 
tained by his successors, just as the third variety of 
cuneiform script on the monuments of Persian rulers 
— Class II — proved to be ° 4 the language of the large 
district of Elam within which the Persian kings had 
established their capital cities, Persepolis, Susa and 

The Babylonian on all the trilingual inscriptions 
from ancient Persia was evidently a translation. The 
inscription in old Persian as the official language of the 
kingdom was the original — occupying, therefore, 
always the first or most prominent position of the three 
— of which those in the two other varieties of script 

54 See below, p. 107 seq. 



were translations. The decipherment of Class I, there- 
fore, served as a vantage point for attacking Class III, 
old Persian cuneiform furnishing the same aid in de- 
ciphering Babylonian cuneiform script as the Greek 
translation on the Rosetta stone served in laying the 
foundation for the reading of the Egyptian hiero- 
glyphics. In both cases, as indeed in the decipherment 
of any unknown script, the beginning was made with 
proper names, which could be picked out through a 
comparison of their relative position in inscriptions of 
Class I and Class III, or in the case of the Rosetta 
Stone, by a study of their relative position in the Greek 
and hieroglyphic texts. When proper names occurred 
more than once in any inscription or occurred in several 
inscriptions, as was the ease in the old Persian monu- 
ments, most of which dated from Darius and Xerxes, 
there could of course be no difficulty in picking out in 
Class III the series of signs corresponding to these 
names in Class L The case was somewhat more difficult 
when a proper name occurred only once, since Class III 
did not have the very convenient diagonal wedge 
separating words from one another, but, on the other 
hand, with a large number of names, both of persons 
and places revealed through the large inscription at 
Behistun, the constant occurrence of the same signs 
in a variety of names that could be read in Class I 
furnished a control in picking out the series of signs in 
Class III, corresponding to any particular name in 
Class I 

The early decipherers like Lowenstern, 65 Long- 

" Essai de dechiffrement de Uecriture assyrienne pour servir 
a V explication du monument de Khorsabad (Paris, 1845). Lowen- 
Bteni attempted to explain the Khorsabad inscriptions without hav- 
ing recourse to the Persian inscriptions, with results that were 
naturally disastrous. He did guess correctly that the Assyrians 
spoke a Semitic language, but this led him to make the absurd 
attempt to explain the cuneiform characters as modifications of 
Hebrew letters. 



M and Saulcy" floundered about considerably. 
the successful explorer of Kborsabad, alone 


made a really valuable contribution by Ms careful study 
of the numerous inscriptions found by him and which 
showed a large number of words evidently identical and 
yet written in different ways. By making a list of 
these variants he paved the way for the discovery made 
by Hincks — that the Babylonian-Assyrian script was 
not alphabetical but syllabic and ideographic, that is to 
say, that words were written by means of signs, each 
having a syllabic value, or by means of a single sign 
standing for the word. This discovery was announced 
by Hincks, in I847, 58 and threw an entirely new light 
on the character of the third variety of cuneiform 
script. With signs expressing syllables or standing for 
entire words, it at once became clear why there should 
be so many signs in this variety of script The variant 
ways of writing the same word, as shown by Botta, also 
became clear, Not only could a word be written by a 
single sign used ideographically or by a series of signs, 
each having a syllabic value, but since syllables were 
of three kinds, (a) consonant and vowel, (b) vowel and 
consonant, (c) consonant, vowel and consonant, it was 
possible to write a word syllabically in various ways, 
Thus the word for god, ilu, could be written by a single 
sign or it could be spelled out and written by two signs 
t and in; and if, e.g., the syllabic lab formed part of a 
word, it might be written by one sign having that value 

•• Several articles in the Revue Archeologique for 1847 in reply 
to Lowenstern 's second work, Expose <Ls (Utnenfs constitutifs du 
systtme de la troisUme icriture cunci forme de Persepolis (Paris, 

• 7 Recherches sur Vhriiure cunei forme dit systeme Assyrien 
(Paris, 1849). Both Longperier and Saulcy made some correct and 
ingenious guesses, by the side, however, of so many errors that their 
work did not mark any real progress. 

"On the Third Persepolitan Writing, etc. (Transactions of 
the Royal Irish Academy, voL xxi, Part II, pp. 249-256.) 



or further subdivided into la and ab and written with 
two signs. Until this discovery was made by Hincks 
there was no certainty even as to the reading of the 
proper names that could be picked out in Class III 
through comparison with Class I. The signs constitut- 
ing the names could be chosen, but since the number of 
signs forming a name in Class III did not agree with 
the number in Class I, it was evidently impossible to 
determine the value of each sign. Guess followed upon 
guess, conjecture upon conjecture, until Hincks defi- 
nitely demonstrated the general character of the script 
of Class III, w f hich represented the same language as 
that found on the monuments of Assyria and Baby* 
Ionia. It was now possible by a comparison between 
proper names in Classes I and III of the Persepolitan 
inscriptions to read the syllabic equivalents in Class III 
for the alphabetical signs in Class I. Thus, e.g., the 
seven signs representing the name Xerxes in Class I 
corresponded to six signs in Class 111, to be read 

Khi-shi- *i-ar-shi~i. 
Similarly the seven signs in Class I for the name Darius 

corresponded to five signs in Class III, the correct 
reading of which turned out to be 
but which might also be written with six signs 

Da-ri- 'i-a-a-mush. 
The word designating these rulers as Achsemenians ap- 
peared in Class I as 

H(a) . kh . a . m(a) . n . i . sh . i , y (a) . 
These nine signs were represented in Class III by seven 
signs to be read 

A-kha-ma-an-nish-ski- 'i 
or by eight signs 

A-kha-ma-an-ni-ish-shi- 'i 



nish could be written either by one sign or by two 
(ni and ish). An important resnlt of Hincks' in- 
vestigations, which greatly facilitated the picking out 
of proper names, both in Class III and in the unilingual 
inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia, was the observa- 
tion that names of persons were preceded by a vertical 
wedge, names of gods by a sign which signified 
"heaven,** while names of countries and of cities also 
had special "determinatives/' as they were called. It 
was thus possible to be quite certain as to the beginning 
of names at least, whether in the trilingual or in the 
unilingual inscriptions. A secure basis for determin- 
ing the correct reading of signs occurring in proper 
names was obtained upon the recognition of the fact 
that the vowels alone represented the alphabetic ele- 
ment in the Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform script. 
It was now possible also to proceed with a greater feel- 
ing of assurance to the reading of ordinary words in 
Class III, such as"son," "king," "country," "father," 
"god," "heaven," "earth," which occurred with suffi- 
cient frequency to enable scholars, by a comparison 
with Class I, to pick out the series of signs or the single 
sign with which they were written. At this juncture, 
in 1851, C0 Henry Rawlinson again appeared on the 
scene with the publication of the Babylonian section 
., Class III) of the great Behistun inscription. 110 
Accepting Hincks* principle of the syllabism of the 
Babylonian cuneiform, he was enabled through the 
comparison of the several hundred names of persons 
and places occurring in Class I with the corresponding 
manner of writing these names in Class III— now 
rendered comparatively simple through the observation 
of the determinatives preceding names of persons, cities 
and countries, — to settle the value of a very large 
number of the signs, in fact over 200 of them. This 

" Analysis of the Babylonian Text at Behistun (Journal of the 
Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xiv, pp. i-civ). 
w See above, p. 83. 




marked a great progress indeed. Rawlinson was also 
enabled to add to the number of ideographic writings 
that could be regarded as certain, including the signs 
designating son, father, great, lord and more the like. 
Hincks followed up his own researches by preparing 
lists of the Assyro-Babylonian characters and by 1855 
he had fixed the value of 252 combinations of wedges. 

The investigations of Hincks and Rawlinson had 
shown beyond possible doubt another fact which at first 
sight seemed very strange, that a single sign could have 
more than one syllabic value. To this feature the name 
u polyphony" was given; and though the proposition 
encountered opposition, it was not long before it re- 
placed the supposed "homophony," proposed by 
Luwcnstern, according to which different signs were 
supposed to have the same value ; and that in this way 
the existence of so many signs was to be accounted 
for, Jules Oppert, who in 1855 gave a survey of the 
stage reached in the decipherment of Babylonian 
cuneiform, came to the support of Hincks and Rawlin- 
son and showed that even a larger number of signs than 
Hincks had suspected had more than one sound, and it 
subsequently turned out that outside of the vowels the 
number that had only one syllabic value was very 

We owe to Oppert also the utilization of an impor- 
tant help for determining the various syllabic values 
for a sign and for proving that corresponding to " poly- 
phony" we have also the phenomenon of "polyide- 
ography" in Babylonian cuneiform, that is to say, the 
circumstance that the same sign may also stand for 
several words, though usually in some logical connec- 
tion with each other. Among the tablets of Ashur- 
banapaPs library brought to the British Museum by 
Layard, 01 were long lists of signs arranged in columns. 
Oppert went to the British Museum to study these lists 
and found that they formed part of a large text-book 

61 See above, p. 22, seq. 



iterature prepared by Babylonian and Assyrian scribes 
to facilitate instruction in cuneiform writing. The 
lists were of various kinds, consisting usually of three 
columns with a single sign in the central column and a 
series of signs in each of the two other columns. Hincks 
had recognized that in some of these lists the signs in 
the right hand column were intended to indicate the 
syllabic value of the sign in the central column. Thus 
a certain sign $4TT was repeated three times in the central 
column, while the right hand column contained different 
signs, as f ollows : 

m = ^r hp- 
m*=*& mi 

The value of the signs of the right hand column having 
been determined from a comparison of proper names 
of Class III with those of Class I of the Persepolitan 
inscriptions, Hincks could interpret the lines as 

The sign fflf has the syllabic value of li~ib 

1 da-an 
1 ka-aL 




That is to say the sign in question may be read in the 
composition of words as lib, dan or kal, as the case may 
be. It will readily be seen how with long lists of such 
signs, the principle of syllabism and polyphony was not 
only definitely confirmed, but the syllabic values of the 
signs were ascertained with equal definiteness. It is 
one of the many merits of Oppert to have demonstrated 
the full significance of these syllabaries (as the lists 
were called) in the further progress of decipherment 
The right hand column in some of these syllabaries con- 
tained a series of signs which furnished in syllabic 
writing the words which a sign represented, or in other 



words the ideographic values, while the left hand 
column furnished the syllabic values. Thus in the case 
of a sign ^Bf we had a series as f ollov. 




U4u 9 "side" 
ash-n< t "pla< 
ir-si-tu, 4 * earth " 

which meant that the sign in question as an ideograph 
could be read ittu, ashru or irsitu with the meanings 
"side/* "place" and "earth" respectively, while when 
used as a syllable entering in the composition, written 
syllabically it had the value ki. BO that a word hi rib 
meaning "within" could be written by the sign -jJH 
(i.e., ki) and the sign ^lf which, in addition to the 
syllabic values above 02 pointed out, has also the value 
rib. Again, a sign *£IJ appeared in a list as follows: 



me-nu-tu, kl number" 



it-ku, "strong" 



kir-ba-an-nu, "offering" 

i.e., the sign in question as an ideograph could be read 
in one of the three fashions indicated, while correspond- 
ing to the three ideographic values, there were also 
three syllabic values. An invaluable aid had thus been 
secured for the reading of the Assyrian and Babylonian 
inscriptions and an aid, moreover, whose authenticity 
could not be doubted, since we had before us the syllabic 
and ideographic values of the signs that the school- 
masters of ancient Mesopotamia had themselves com- 
piled as a help towards reading the inscriptions on the 
monuments and with a view of initiating their pupils 
into the method of writing cuneiform, as well as 
reading it. 

Now to be sure the existence of various syllabic and 
ideographic values for one and the same sign added to 
the difficulty of reading inscriptions of Glass I IT, but it 

•» Page 93, 



as not long before, through the combined efforts again 
of Hineks, Rawlinson and Oppert, it was found that the 
Babylonian and Assyrian scribes used certain devices 
to simplify the eumbersomeness of their cuneiform 
script. In case of a sign X which could be read lib, dan, 
kal r rib, etc., the final consonant was frequently re- 
peated by following up the sign in question with a sign 
beginning with that consonant. Thus, if after the sign 
in question, a sign Y was written which had the value 
hi, it was an indication that the preceding sign was lib; 
if the next sign, however, was U, it was an indication 
that in that particular instance the sign X was to be 
read kal; if the next sign was win, it indicated that the 
sign was to be read dan. Resides, when once the char- 
acter of the Babylonian language was ascertained, it 
was possible, in a large number of cases, to decide with- 
out difficulty which of several values attached to a sign 
should be chosen in order to produce a word which could 
represent either a possible verbal form or a noun 
formation in the language. 

This brings us to the important question as to the 
language of Class III and of the Babylonian- Assyrian 
inscriptions, and how it was possible, after spelling out 
the words of an Assyrian or Babylonian inscription to 
determine to what class of languages the words be- 
longed. At first, scholars were entirely at the mercy 
of their individual guesses. Grotefend, who was the 
first to call the language Assyrian, refrained from com- 
mitting himself beyond expressing his opinion that he 
could find no indications that the language belonged to 
the Semitic class. Gesenius, one of the most eminent 
Semitic scholars of his day, declared that it belonged 
to the Medo-Persian group. Philoxenus Luzatto, the 
son of a distinguished Hebrew scholar, published two 
monographs in 1849, w in which he proposed the thesis 
that the Assyrian was allied to Sanskrit. There were 
others, however, who, starting from the Biblical tra- 

68 Le Sanscritisme de la Langue Assyrienne, etc. (Padua, 1849). 



dition,* 4 wliicli placed Ashur (or the Assyrians) among 
the sons of Shem, conjectured that the language was 
Semitic. The question could not be definitely decided 
until it was possible to reach a degree of certainty as to 
the exact way in which proper names and the mos 
common words of the Assyrian inscriptions could 
read. With the recognition of the syllabism of I 
Baby Ionian- Assyrian cuneiform a beginning in 
direction was made ; and when, by following the methoc 
introduced by Hincks and his successors, such words 
a-bu ("father"), ra-hu-u ("great"), shar-ru ("king"), 
a-na-ku ("I") and verbal forms like i-zan-uan ("] 
beautifies"), i-kash-xhad ("he conquers"), were 
spelled out, — the meanings of which were settled by 
comparison with the corresponding words in inscrip- 
tions of Glass I or through the context — the comparison 
with the common Semitic noun ab for "father," with 
the Semitic stem nib ("great"), with the Hebrew sar 
("prince"), with the Hebrew pronoun of the first per- 
son anoki and with the common Semitic verbs zandnu 
and kashadu in the sense of "adorning" and "conquer," 
the indications pointed unmistakably towards Assyrian 
as one of the group of languages known as Semitic*' 

fl * Gen. 10, 22, The grouping of nations in this chapter as soe 
of Shem, Ham and Japhet has of course no scientific value, though 
the list is remarkable as an indication of the knowledge of the day 
and because of the traditions that it embodies. The division ap- 
pears to be into three zones. The peoples living in the northern 
zone are grouped as sons of Japhet, those in the middle as sons of 
Shem and those in the south as sons of Ham. Babylonia is placed in 
the southern zone, Assyria in the northern. The chapter is com- 
posite in character and full of late insertions and glosses. The 
system is abandoned in the case of the Canaanites, who are placed 
among the sons of Ham because of the hostile feelings of the 
Hebrews towards them. 

ea It is now customary to range the Semitic languages into two 
groups: (1) Northern Semitic to which Hebrew, Phoenician and 
the various dialects of Aramaic and Syriac and Babylonian- Assyrian 
belong, and (2) Southern — Arabic, Hitnyaritic, Ethiopic with their 



The peculiarities of the Semitic languages are so 
marked that one cannot long be in doubt in the case of 
a new language discovered whether it belongs to the 
group or not. The forms or moods of the Semitic verb 
are also of a stereotyped character, and a Semitist can 
tell almost at a glance whether any given verbal f orcn is 
a possible one in a Semitic language. Furthermore the 
agreement in vocabulary among the Semitic languages 
is also considerable, though this varies naturally among 
the subdivisions of the group. Step by step, little by 
little, the difficulties were overcome, one problem after 
the other was solved until, in 1857, a test was made 
which showed that the decipherment of Assyrian rested 
on a firm basis. At the suggestion of H. Fox Talbot, 
who was among the early students of Assyriology, an 
Assyrian historical text was chosen and four scholars 
— Hincks, Rawlinson, Oppert and Talbot himself— 
agreed to send to the Royal Asiatic Society a transla- 
tion independently made. No translation of the in- 
scription had ever been published. The plan was car- 
ried out, and the commission appointed to compare the 
four translations 8fi found the agreement to be so com- 
plete in all essentials as to carry conviction even to 
those who had hitherto questioned the soundness of 
the method pursued. But the skeptics were not all 
silenced, and even when a few years later another re- 
markable confirmation of the correctness of the de- 
cipherment was quite accidentally furnished, many 
scholars — among them distinguished investigators like 
Ernest Renan in France and Alfred Gutschmid in 
Germany — continued to query the results reached. The 

various dialects. Other scholars prefer a division into eastern and 
western. See on these divisions Brockelmann T s Grundriss der 
vergleichcnden Grammatik der Semitischen Sprachen (Leipzig, 
1908-1913), I, p. 5, seq. 

••Published by the Royal Asiatic Society in 1857. The text 
chosen was an inscription of Tiglath-pileser I, King of Assyria, 
who ruled c. 1130-1100 b.c. 



reason for the doubt still existing in the minds of such 
scholars as Renan and Gutschmid * 7 was due largely to 
the difficulty of accounting for the polyphonic char- 
acter of the signs and to the puzzling complications in 
the writing of native Assyrian and Babylonian names 
of persons and places, in consequence of their being 
written in part ideographically and in part syllabically. 
It was natural to raise the question, since writing is a 
medium of expressing facts and ideas, why a people 
should have developed a script so confusing that eacl 
sign might have one of several values, and furthermore 
how could one ever be sure in the case of signs used 
ideographically that any proposed reading was the 
correct one, since a sign could stand for a number of 
words, even though there was an association of ideas 
between the words so represented 1 ? The answer to these 
questions could not be furnished until some light had 
been thrown on the origin of cuneiform writing. That 
the wedge-shaped signs represented originally pictures 
and were modifications of hieroglyphics was to be con- 
cluded from the fact that a sign could stand for an 
entire word. In the case of some of the signs, the 
pictorial origin was, moreover, quite apparent Thus, 
the sign for "god" and " heaven" which had ordinarily 
the form >^~, in older inscriptions, particularly in 
those found in mounds of the south, had a form like &- 
and it was an obvious conclusion that this represented 
a star, A sign ^ signifying "hand" showed even in 
this late form its origin from a picture of the ringers 
of the hand ; nor was it difficult to recognize in the form 
HTTT, standing for "house", its development from the 
picture of some kind of construction, especially when 
one compared the late form with a more elaborate one 
S§, found in some inscriptions of an older period or 

fT Renan voiced his doubts in an elaborate criticism of Qppert's 
Expedition scientifique en Mhopotamie, published in the Journal 
des Savants for 1859, pp. 165-186; 244-260; 360-68; Gutschmid in 
Neuc Bcitragc zur Geschichte des alien Orients (Leipzig, 1876). 



which imitated the older forms of the script. Oppert, 
as far back as 1856, had shown that the sign TH signi- 
fying "fish" had been evolved from the picture of a 
fish, the outlines of which — head, body, tail and fins — 
could still be distinguished in a more archaic form $ , 
found on Babylonian monuments. As a means of 
facilitating the reading of signs used ideographieally, 
Oppert and others had also pointed out the use of a sign 
intended to be read syllabieally and placed after an 
ideograph to indicate the final syllable of the word 
designated. By means of this phonetic complement it 
was possible to feel certain, e.g., that the sign for "god" 
and "heaven" when followed by a sign having the value 
/ a was to be read elit a , "upper" ; a sign that could stand 
for umu (day),«rrw (light) and sham shtt (sun) was to 
be read as um if followed by ma, whereas if "sun" was 
intended, it was accompanied by a phonetic complement 
shu or ski or ash, which indicated that it was to be read 
sh a mshu( nominative ease), sham ski (gen.), or shamash 
(construct state). All this was of some help, but un- 
certainty still existed in very many cases, and even 
the explanation of the hieroglyphic origin of the wedges 
did not account for the many values that a sign used 
phonetically might have, for there seemed to be no con- 
nection between the syllabic and ideographic values. 

It was again the ingenuity of Hincks that suggested 
the solution. In a paper read before the British Asso- 
ciation for the Advancement of Science, in 1850,°* 
Hincks threw out the hint that while the oldest cunei- 
form writing — that of Class III and the Assyrian- 
Babylonian inscriptions — was Semitic, the origin of the 
script was not Semitic. He based this view upon the 
insufficiency of the cimeif orm syllabary for distinguish- 
ing between softer and harder palatals and dentals 
that form an ingredient of the consonantal system in 

**On the Language and the Mode of Writing of the Ancient 
Assyrians (Transactions of the twentieth meeting of the British 
Association for the Advancement of Science, p. 140, seq.). 



the Semitic languages, and that in other respects it 
was not suitable for writing words belonging to a lan- 
guage of the Semitic group. He drew the inference 
that the writing had been adopted by the Babylonians 
and Assyrians from some Indo-European people which 
had conquered the country; he expressed the further 
belief that this people had relations with Egypt from 
which the cuneiform script was ultimately drawn. 
Bawlinson at first also accepted the Egyptian origin 
of the cuneiform script, but afterwards advanced the 
view that the people who conquered Babylonia and im- 
posed their script on the country were Scythians — a 
view that was modified by Oppcrt to the extent of desig- 
nating the language of the inventors as Casdo-Scythian t 
and who compared it to some of the languages of the 
Turanian group of Russia. On the assumption of a 
foreign origin for the cuneiform script, it was possible 
to explain the circumstance that there was no agree- 
ment between the ideographic and the syllabic values 
of a sign. The syllabic values represented the non- 
Semitic words which were the equivalents in the lan- 
guage of the inventors to the ideographic values of the 
sign in the Semitic idiom of Babylonia. Thus, if in the 
class of three-columned syllabaries above referred to, 69 
we find the sign nf- in the middle column, explained as 
follows : 

an n^r ilu 

This meant that an was the equivalent in Casdo- 
Scythian for the Semitic ilu, "god. p ' The Babylonians, 
when adopting the foreign script, conceived the idea 
of using the non-Semitic word an as a syllable with 
which to write words — particularly verbal forms and 
inflected nouns — which could not well be expressed 
ideographically. Thus the non-Semitic word an would 
be used syllabically to write a Semitic word ending in 
an like dan-an, The theory assumed that the inventors 

•• Above, p. 92, seq. 



script used it as an ideographic medium, and that 
the borrowers took the forward step of converting it 
into a mixed ideographic and syllabic script. In this 
way the various syllabic values of a sign admitted of a 
reasonable explanation, while the various ideographic 
values could in most cases be accounted for by asso- 
ciation of ideas. The case would be analogous if the 
French had adopted a form of sign-writing from the 
English, and at the same time used the English sounds 
of the signs to spell words in their own language, while 
the same sign when standing for a word would of course 
be read as a French word. Thus the French word del 
would be written with the sign, which would be read 
"heaven" in English, or it would be written syllabically 
ci -f el, in which case the sign which in English desig- 
nated "sea" would be used because it had the same 
sound as the first syllable of the French word for 
heaven, while the second syllable would be written by 
the English sign for iA ell, " because the sound of the 
English word fitted the case. In the same way, the 

bylonians wrote their words in non-Semitic form 
but pronounced them as Semitic. 

The designation Scythian or Casdo-Scythian was 
vehemently contested by various scholars. Rawlinson 
himself abandoned it in 1855 in favor of Akkadian, be- 
cause of the frequency with which the name Akkadian — 
occurring as Akkad also in Gen. 10, 10 — was mentioned 
in the Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions. In 1869/° 
Oppert, basing his arguments on the occurrence of the 
title, "king of Siimer 71 and Akkad" in the inscriptions 
of very ancient rulers, proposed the terai Sumerians 

70 Observations stir I'origine des Ckaldeens, in the Comptes- 
Iu nilus de la Soci^te francaise de Numismatique et d Archeologie, 
I, pp. 73-76. 

11 Sumer is represented in the Old Testament as Shinar, e.g., in 
Gen. 11, 2, where mankind is described as congregated in the "valley 
of Shinar"; in Gen. 14, 1, Amraphel, who is Hammurapi, is desig- 
nated as "King of Shinar.*' See above, p. 4, note 3. 




for the non-Semitic settlers of the Euphrates Valley, 
and Akkadians for the Semitic population. This view, 
after a long controversy with many changes of front 
on the part of scholars, has been finally demonstrated 
to be the correct one. 

But who were these Sunierians? Where did they 
come from? And what was the nature of the language 
which they spoke? Before taking up this question a 
few words need to be said about a long and animated 
controversy regarding Sumerian and the Sumerians 
which began in 1874, and which has continued down 
to the present time. While the theory of the non- 
Semitic origin and character of the cuneiform script 
loom ed to furnish an explanation for some of the prob- 
lems involved in so complicated and comprehensive a 
form of writing as the Babylonians developed and 
passed on to the Assyrians, new difficulties arose as 
more material was brought out of the mounds, difficul- 
ties that did not appear to be met by the Sumerian 
theory as we may briefly call it. In the first place it 
was observed that many of the syllabic values of the 
signs were portions of a Semitic word for which the 
sign stood. So a sign *3W which, both in syllabaries 
and in texts, stood for the word reshu, "head," has as 
its syllabic values sag and fish. The former was the 
non-Semitic word for head, according to the Sumerian 
theory, but the other value, risk, evidently stood in 
some relationship to the Semitic equivalent of the sign 
used as an ideograph. Again, if among the syllabic 
values of a sign which stands for the Semitic dcmnu, 
"strong," we find dan, it was evident that this value 
was an abbreviation of the Semitic word. Such in- 
stances began to multiply and when it was found that 
at least one hundred syllabic values had all the appear- 
ance of representing pails of Semitic words, the con- 
elusion was forced upon scholars that the Babylonian- 
Assyrian syllabary was in part at least Semitic. To 
account for this the adherents of the Sumerian theory 



maintained that the Babylonians after adopting the 
non-Semitic mode of writing and taking the step of con- 
verting it from an ideographic to a mixed ideographic 
and syllabic script, continued to develop cuneiform 
writing and added to the Sumerian words employed as 
syllabic values, parts of the Semitic words for which 
the signs stood, but used likewise as syllabic values. 
Meanwhile, cuneiform texts of the older period were 
earning to light from mounds in the south, from which 
it became clear that the Assyrian civilization was merely 
an offshoot of the culture that arose in the south, in 
the Euphrates Valley. It was therefore in the south 
that the solution of the problem as to the origin of the 
culture and the script was to be sought. Now, as one 
proceeded backwards, the texts appeared to be more 
and more ideographic in character. Ere long texts were 
found which seemed to be entirely ideographic, and 
such texts increased largely in numbers with the un- 
earthing of the ancient city of Shirpurla (or Lagash) 
through de Sarzec. 72 The inscriptions on the many 
statues and votive offerings of Gudea and of other 
rulers were written in the older style, which scholars 
now began to regard as Sumerian ; and yet even on these 
monuments Semitic words appeared and again some of 
the oldest inscriptions of the south were clearly Semitic 
and not Sumerian. 

What did all this mean? If the Sumerians origi- 
nated the Sumerian culture and were the inventors of 
the script, we should expect to find the oldest inscrip- 
tions to be in Sumerian and, what is more, in pure 
Sumerian; and it ought also to be possible to recon- 
struct the original language of the cuneiform script in 
such a way as to place the language in some definite 
group, as the Babylonian and the Persian cuneiform 
had been. Various attempts of this kind to find affilia- 
tions between Sumerian and Turkish or between Su- 
merian and some Ural-Altaic groups failed, It was 

12 Above, p. 39 $eq. 



therefore natural that a douht should have arisen 
whether the Sumerian represented a real language or 
whether the Sumerians, if they existed, were the origi- 
nators of the culture and the inventors of the script. 
The Sumerian theory manifested at first such weak- 
nesses that one of the most eminent Semitists of his day. 
Joseph Halevy, was led to put forward the thesis that 
what scholars regarded as the Sumerian language we 
nothing but an older ideographic method of writing the 
Semitic Akkadian or Babylonian, which, in the cours 
of its evolution, had adopted many more or less arti- 
ficial devices for expressing niceties of thought and 
grammatical complications. The thesis carried with it 
the Semitic origin of the Euphratean culture and prac- 
tically eliminated the Suineriaus altogether. Sumei 
and Akkad as they appeared on the tablets of earh 
rulers in the Euphrates Valley were purely geograph- 
ical designations of the southern and northern portioi 
of the valley respectively. 73 Even the opponents of 
Halevy were obliged to admit that he had revealed weak 
points in the Sumerian theory and it is due to him 
that Assyriology was deflected from the erroneous direc- 
tion into which it had turned. It is now admitted that 
many of the hymns and incantations which scholars 
had been accustomed to regard as Sumerian are com- 
paratively late compositions, or that they have come 
down to us in a late revised form betraying Semitic 
influences. It is also generally admitted to a larger 
extent than was formerly the case that the Semitic 
settlers of Babylonia had a large share in perfecting 

"It is not possible to present more than a bare outUne of 
Halevy 's thesis, which has many ramifications. He has written 
voluminously and always with critical acumen on the subject. For 
details the reader is referred to Halevy s articles in the Revue 
Semitique edited by him. An epitome of his theory will be found 
in his recent work, Precis d'Allograpkie Assyro-Babylonienne 
(Paris, 1912). A summary of the controversy up to 1898 will be 
found in F. H. Weissbach's Die Sumerische Frage (Leipzig, 1898). 



the cuneiform syllabary, that many texts which are 
written ideographical ly are in reality Semitic com- 
positions and are to be read as such, and that even in 
genuine Sumerian texts Semitic influence is apparent; 
>ut for all that, evidence sufficient in both quantity and 
quality has been brought forward to show that the early 
population of the Euphrates Valley was mixed in char- 
acter, that by the side of Semites we find a Turanian 
race clearly depicted on the monuments and demarcated 
by their physiognomies and by differences of costume 
from the Semitic population. 

We owe to Eduard Meyer 7,1 the definite establish- 
ment of this thesis. On the linguistic side, evidence 
for the existence of a Sumerian language has recently 
been brought forward which does not rest, upon guess- 
work or on pure conjecture, but is made conclusive by 
the study of the oldest texts of Babylonia. As long as 
Sumerian was simply to be deduced from the ideo- 
graphic values of the signs, one was justified in doubt- 

lg whether we were in the presence of a real language, 
for since ideographs could be read as Semitic as well 
is Sumerian, it was indeed possible to regard a "Su- 

ierian M inscription as merely another form of waiting 

Babylonian — a very artificial form to be sure and yet, 
since all writing is a more or less artificial device, a 
possible form. When, however, the proof was fur- 
nished from the texts that Sumerian words could be 
written phonetically as well as ideographically, that 
even in Sumerian the device existed of writing a word 
as in Babylonian either by a single sign representing 
the word or by signs representing the syllables of which 
it is composed, there could no longer be any question 
as to the genuine linguistic character of Sumerian. In 
addition to the evidence for phonetic writing, which 

jecame more and more abundant as scholars penetrated 
deeper into the study of the oldest texts from ancient 

74 SumerUr und Semiten in Babylanien (Berlin, 1906). 



Babylonian centres, 75 the proof of a fixed grammatical 
structure for nouns and verbal forms was furnished in 
a manner to carry conviction to the minds of those who 
had hitherto maintained a skeptical or non-committal 
attitude towards the linguistic evidence. 

Taking up now the question who these Sumerians 
were, an impartial verdict must confess that the prob- 
lem still remains obscure. We know that they were not 
Semites ; their features as depicted on the monuments 
reveal a Turanian type, but the term Turanian is too 
vague to furnish any definite clue. Various indications 
point to their having come from a mountainous region. 
They brought the worship of their native gods with 
them, and the nature of these deities suggests their 
having had their original seats on the tops of moun- 
tains. It is to the Sumerians that we owe the construc- 
tion of the stage-towers of which remains have been 
found in all the important centres of Babylonia and 
Assyria* Built in imitation of mountains with an imi- 
tation of a mountain road leading to the sanctuary at 
the top, it is reasonable to conclude that the thought of 
housing the gods in this way arose in the minds of a 
people accustomed to the worship of gods whose seats 
were on mountain peaks. There is other evidence 
pointing in the same direction of an original mountain 
home whence the Sumerians came at a remote period to 
settle in the Euphrates Valley. Now there are moun- 
tains to the east and north-east of Babylonia, and it is 

T *We owe largely to F, Thure&u-Dangm the progress made 
during the past decade in the interpretation of these texts. See 
especially this author's Lgs Inscriptions de Sumer et d'Akkad( Paris, 
1905) ; also in German translation, Die Sumerischen und Akkad- 
ischen K&nig&insckriften (Leipzig, 1907). See now, for an exposi- 
tion of Sumerian grammar, DeUtzsch's Grundzuge der Sumerischen 
Qrammatik (Leipzig, 1914) and Dr. Arno Poebel's volume of 
Sumerian grammatical texts in the publication above referred to 
(page 46) and which represents a further advance on DeUtzsch's 



therefore possible that the Sumerians entered the 
Valley from this side — perhaps under pressure of other 
mountain hordes coming from the north. But they 
may also have come, as has been recently maintained, 
from mountainous districts to the northwest of Meso- 
potamia. Whether the Sumerians already found the 
Semites in possession of Babylonia and then conquered 
them, or whether the Sumerians were the earliest 
settlers and founded the culture in that district is 
another question that has not been definitely decided, 
with the evidence, however, in favor of the view that 
the Semites were the first on the ground and that they 
had already made some advance in culture when the 
Sumerians swept down on them and imposed their rule 
and such culture as they brought with them on the 
older settlers. 


Here we may rest our survey of the decipherment 
of the Babylonian-Assyrian cuneiform writing, which 
we have followed from the successful unraveling of the 
old Persian inscriptions down to the time when a secure 
basis for the decipherment of Class III had been se- 
cured. The appearance, in 1859, of the " Expedition 
scientifique en Mesopofcamie executee de 1851 a 1854," T0 
the second volume of which contained Oppert's analysis 
of the principles of the decipherment, may be said to 
mark the termination of the second period of cuneiform 
research, as the publication, in 1849-51, of Rawlinson's 
researches in the old Persian inscriptions closed the 
first period. The third period, marked by continuous 
publications of Babylonian and Assyrian texts, chiefly 
by French and English Assyriologists, is one of steady 
progress in perfecting the details of the decipherment. 
New ideographic and syllabic values were constantly 
being discovered, improved readings took the place of 

T * The account of the French expedition above referred to 




earlier imperfect ones, and the beginnings were made 
towards a systematic treatment of the grammatical 
features of the Babylonian language, or Assyrian as 
it continued to be called. Skepticism, however, still 
existed in sonic quarters and it was not until the ap- 
pearance, in 1872, of Eberhard Schrader 's Die As- 
syrisch-Bahi/JotiisrltiH K< iliiisrhriften, 17 that what 
may be called the " trial" period came to an end. 78 

The fourth period of cuneiform research is marked 
by the participation of German scholarship, which, since 
the pioneer work of G rote fend, had rather held aloof 
in the further struggle to unravel the mysteries of the 
various kinds of cuneiform script. 

Excepting Grotefend, the work in Assyriology was 
carried on by English and French scholars, unless we 
count Jules Oppert, who was born in Hamburg, but 
who, as a young man, came to Paris and settled there 
for the remainder of his life, 70 among German scholars. 
Eberhard Schradcr was the first among the students of 
Oriental languages in Germany to take up Assyriology 
and when, in 1875, the University of Berlin decided to 
introduce the subject, Schrader was called to fill the 
chair and continued active till within a few years of 
his death, in 1908, Schrader 's thoroughness and sound- 
ness of scholarship did much to gain the confidence of 
German scholars in general in the results of the de- 
cipherment, and after Gutschinidt's attack in 1876, all 
opposition practically ceased. Schrader brought to his 

TT Published in the Zeits. d. Deutsch, Morgenlandischen Qesell- 
sehaft, vol. xxvi, pp. 1-392; and then as a separate volume. 

T8 Gutschmid 's answer to Schrader (above, p. 98) appeared in 
1876, hut it failed to make any deep impression. 

70 See the sketch by W. Muss-Arnolt of Oppert's Ufe, with a 
complete bibliography, in the Beitrdge zur Assyriologie, vol. ii, 
pp. 523-556. No adequate biography of Edward Hincks has to my 
knowledge as yet appeared. A brief sketch with a complete bibli- 
ography, compiled by Dr. Cyrus Adler, will be found in the Journal 
of the American Oriental Society, vol. xiii and xiv. 




tnat pMIological nicety for which German scholar- 

ip has so long been distinguished, and of which at 

at time cuneiform research stood much in need. 

Schrader's enthusiasm for the study attracted a number 

f young scholars to him, among them Friedrich De- 

itzsch, the son of the distinguished theologian, Franz 

Delitzsch. Young Delitzsch became the founder of the 

resent German school of Assyriology. First establish- 

g himself as Privat-Dozent for Assyriology at Leip- 

g, then called to Breslau to occupy the chair of 

Assyriology, and in 1906, to Berlin, he has in the course 

f his career trained the largest percentage of Assyri- 

logists of Germany and a large proportion of those in 

ther parts of the world, notably in the United States 

d Canada ; and those of the present day who did not 

it directly at his feet have imbibed inspiration from 

elitzsch's fruitful researches or have been pupils of 

elitzsch's pupils. 80 

The activity at the present time in all branches of 

Assyriology is largely due to the stimulus given to the 

tudy by Delitzsch and his pupils. The museums of 

London, Berlin, Paris and Philadelphia are steadily 

issuing new texts. Specialization within Assyriology 

has set in. Some scholars are devoting themselves to 

the extensive business and commercial literature, 

others to the religious texts and the development of the 

ligious ideas and the cult, others to the study of 

Babylonian-Assyrian history, some to the linguistic 

problems, some to the further elucidation of the 

Sumerian texts and so forth. 

Through the combined activity of scholars of many 
lands, supplementing the discoveries made by explor- 

*°We owe to Delitzsch the first Assyrian Chrestomathy (As- 
syrische Lesestiicke, 1st ed., Leipzig, 1876; 5th ed., 1912} ; the first 
substantial grammar (Assyrischc Grammatik, 2d ed., Leipzig, 1906, 
also English translation, Leipzig, 1889) ; and the first Assyrian 
Dictionary (Assyrisches Handwortcrbuch, Leipzig, 1896) to which 
he is now adding a supplement. 



ing expeditions, and through the interpretation of 
material unearthed, which has grown, as we have seei 
to such huge proportions and which is still growing, the 
civilization of Babylonia and Assyria stands reveals 
before us in all its ramifications as one of the great 
forces in the ancient history of mankind, the direct or 
indirect influence of which is to be seen in many a pi 
of our own modern culture. 


While not strictly within the limits of our subject, 
it will nevertheless be considered proper to close thi 
chapter with a brief account of the decipherment o 
Class II of the trilingual inscriptions of Persepolis an 
surrounding districts. Already in his first paper on 
the Persepolitan inscriptions, Grotefend added some 
remarks on the script of Class II which he recognize 
as more complicated than Class I, but not so com- 
plicated as Class III, He continued his researches in 
this second variety from time to time and in 1837 B1 
was able to recognize the use of a vertical wedge (as 
in Class III), placed before proper names in order to 
distinguish them. 

It was not, however, until 1844 that any decided 
success in deciphering the script of Class II was 
achieved. In that year appeared a work 82 by a Danish 
scholar, Westergaard, in which, through a comparison 
of the proper names in Class II and Class I, he suc- 
ceeded in assigning correct values to 18 of the signs. 
This was only a small proportion of the 111 signs to 



t^Neue Beilrage zur Erlauterung der Persepolitanischen Keil- 
schrtft (Hanover, 1837). 

82 N, L. Westergaard, Zur Entzifferung der Achamenidischen 
Keilschrift zweiter Qattung (Zeits. fur die Kunde des Morgen- 
landes, vol. vi, pp. 337-466) ; also published in English, On the 
Deciphering of the Second Akhcemenian or Median Species of 
arrouheaded Writing (Memoires de la Soci6te Rcyale des Anti- 
quaires du Nord, 1840-44, pp. 271-439). 



distinguished in Class II, but it was a beginning. 

> rogress would have been more rapid had not Wester- 
gaard fallen into some serious errors which had to be 
corrected by subsequent researches. He picked out cor- 
rectly the signs representing the names Cyrus, Darius, 
Xerxes, Hystaspis, Achaemenian and Persian; and he 
also recognized the mixed syllabic and alphabetic char- 
acter of the script, but he erred, as was quite natural, 
in the vowel signs and in the selection of signs repre- 
senting syllables and those representing merely a con- 
sonant. For twenty-two signs he could not determine 
any values through the mere comparison of proper 
names. Hincks again came to the rescue in correcting 
some of Westergaard's errors. In two papers on the 
subject* 3 he identified the three signs for the vowels, 
a, i, u. He recognized the determinative placed before 

le names of deities, added nine signs to those correctly 
sed by Westergaard. The publication of the version 

)f Class II in the great Behistun inscription by Edward 

lorris, in 1855,* 4 to whom Rawlinson had given his 
copies and squeezes of this part of the great rock in- 
scription, marked a decided advance through the recog- 

rition by Norris of the close relationship of the signs 
of Class II to those of Class III. By this means the 
value of a number of signs could be fixed by comparison 
with the Babylonian-Assyrian signs, and when later 
on the principles governing the modifications that the 
signs of Class III had undergone in their transforma- 
tion to Class II, had been ascertained, the bulk of the 
syllabary of the latter class became perfectly trans- 

83 (a) On the First and Second Kinds of PersepoUtan Writing, 
(b) On the Three Kinds of PersepoUtan Writing and On the 
Babylonian Lapidary Characters; both published in the Trans- 
actions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. xxi, Part II, pp. 114-131 
and 233-248. 

M Memoir on the Scythic Version of the Behistun Inscription 
(Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xv, pp, 1-213). The 
paper was read in 1852. 



parent. In tliis way the decipherment of Babylonian- 
Assyrian became of service in reading the second variety 
of the cuneiform script. Westergaard now took up the 
subject again 85 and succeeded in increasing the number 
of signs correctly read to sixty-seven. Steady progress 
was made tln-ough the efforts of various scholars, among 
whom Mi Haig, A. D. Mordtmann, Oppert and Sayce 
are to be specially mentioned, so that by the year 
1879, when Oppert published his work, Le Peuph et 
la Langtte des Medes, the decipherment, so far as the 
rending of the signs was concerned, was practically 
completed. The final work on the subject, giving a full 
account of the course of the decipherment and detailing 
the results in the most exact manner, is the publication 
of the inscriptions of Class II by Weissbach, in 1890. 8a 
The question, however, as to the language of the inscrip- 
tions was a more difficult one. Scholars wavered as to 
the name to be given to the language. The first sug- 
gestion to call it Scythic was abandoned in favor of 
Median, proposed by Oppert, but this designation 
yielded in time to others so that at present it is generally 
designated from the region in which it was spoken as 
neo-Susian or neo-Elamitie. B7 The resemblance of the 
signs to those of Class III showed conclusively that the 
script was a derivative from the Babylonian- Assyrian 
cuneiform, and in view of the comparative ease in de- 
termining through this resemblance the values to be 
assigned to the 113 signs to be distinguished, and the 
existence of certain signs as in Class III, as determina- 
tives indicating whether a word was the name of a 
person, a deity, a city or a country, it was possible, 
through the comparison with Class I and III on the 

"In a paper published in the Proceedings of the Danish 
Academy for 1854, vol. ii, pp. 41-178. 

80 Die Ach&menideninschriften zweiter Art, herausgegeben und 
bearbeitet von F. H. Weissbaeh (Leipzig, 1890). 

87 The second designation is at present the one more commonly 



large Behistun inscription to fix the sounds of many 
words in the language, the meanings of which were 
furnished by the comparison. This extended to verbal 
forms as well as to nouns, to pronouns and to particles. 
The language turned out to be a type which was neither 
Semitic nor Aryan, and yet totally different from the 
Sumerian. Excavations conducted by the French gov- 
ernment for several years at Susa, under the general 
direction of J. De Morgan, brought to the surface a 
large number of historical and votive inscriptions and 
hundreds of commercial tablets such as were found in 
great abundance in the Babylonian and Assyrian 
mounds. The material covered an extensive period; 
and as it was studied and interpreted by one of the 
most distinguished Assyriologists of the day, Vincent 
Scheil,* 8 it was shown that the language was closely 
related to that of Class II. It was evident, therefore, 
that the inscriptions of this class represented the lan- 
guage spoken hy the inhabitants of Elam, lying to the 
east and northeast of Babylonia and which, as we know 
from the annals of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, 
was for many centuries the rival of Babylonia and at 
various times made inroads into the Euphrates Valley. 89 
The excavations at Susa confirmed the data derived 
from Babylonian and Assyrian monuments as to the 
great age of the Elamitic kingdom, for the material 
unearthed carries us back beyond the third millennium 
before our era. The script also shows traces of having 

M The results of the remarkably successful excavations at Susa 
are being published by the French government. Thirteen large 
volumes have appeared up to the present time under the title of 
Delegation en Perse, of which six are devoted to the El ami tic 
material, edited by Scheil. The expedition also found a magnificent 
series of boundary stones and the famous Hammurapi Code, all of 
which were captured as trophies by the Elamites during an in- 
cursion into Babylonia in the twelfth century and carried by them 
to their capital at Susa. See below, p. 283. 

■• See Chapter III. 



passed through a long development, the oldest forms 
representing a much closer approach to the original 
pictures from which the linear wedges were derived. 
The decipherment of the older Elamitic inscriptions, 
successfully inaugurated by Scheil, is not, however, com- 
plete, More material will no doubt be forthcoming 
which will enable scholars to clear up doubtful points. 
It seems certain that the language also changed some- 
what with the lapse of centuries so that scholars now 
distinguish between the oldest form of Elamitic as 
proto-Elamitic, and the latest form, represented by 
Class II, as neo-Elamitic. The relationship of the 
Elamitic and neo-Elamitic cuneif onn to the Babylonian 
is evident, but exactly how the proto-Elamitic char- 
acters were derived from the Babylonian script is a 
question that must be left open for the present. As for 
the language, we must rest content with the statement 
that it is of a Turanian type and was one of the lan- 
guages spoken in the districts lying to the east of 
Babylonia. The Elamites at one time extended their 
rule far into Asia Minor, for around the lake of Van 
in Armenia inscriptions have been found winch are 
written in a cuneiform variety practically identical 
with that of Class II. 00 

The extensive use of cuneiform script as a writing 
medium for various languages and the development of 
various distinct forms, all eventually to be traced back 
to some early variety of picture writing, is a remark- 
able testimony to the profound influence exerted by the 
civilization that arose in the Euphrates Valley through 
the combination of the Sumerians and Semites or as 
we ought to say, Sumerians and Akkadians. Even with 
a consideration of these chief forms representing four 
distinct languages, Sumerian, Babylonian-Assyrian, 
Elamitic and Persian, we have not exhausted the scope 

*°$ee Sayce The Inscription of Mai-Amir and the Language of 
the Second Column of the Akhmmeiiian Inscriptions (Actea du VI. 
Congres International des Orientaliates, Part II, pp. 639-756). 


of cuneiform writing. In Cappadocia a variety derived 
from the more specifically Assyrian form of cuneiform 
characters was used in connection with commercial in- 
terchange. A considerable number of tablets, all of a 
commercial character, have been found dating from 
about the eleventh century, in which cuneiform is used 
to write the current tongue of Cappadocia, 91 while at 
Boghaz-Keui, a capital of a Hittite kingdom, a large 
archive of clay tablets was discovered by the late Hugo 
Winckler, 92 containing hundreds of tablets in cunei- 
form writing, but representing the Hittite language — 
the same as the one found in hieroglyphic form on the 
Hittite inscriptions. Among the tablets of the cunei- 
form archive found at Tell el-Amarna to which refer- 
ence will be made, 83 there were letters in cuneiform 
written by rulers of Mitanni — a district to the north- 

01 See Delitzsch, Beiirage zur Entzifferung und Erkldrung der 
Kappadofcischai Keilschrifttafeln (Abhandlungen der Konigtich- 
Sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Philologisch-His- 
torische Classe, XIV, pp. 207-270). 

•* See Orientalistiscke IAteraturzeitung, Bee. 15, 1906, and 
MitteiL d. Deutsch. Orient Gesellschaft, No. 35 (Dec., 1907), and 
now, also, Delitzsch, Sitmerisck-Akkadisck-Hettitiscke Vokabular- 
fragmente (Berlin, 1914; Abh. d. Kgl. Preuss. Akd. d. Wiss., 1914, 
PhiL-Hist. Klasse, Nr. 3), embodying a study of 26 fragments of 
tablets found at Boghaz-Keui, containing in parallel columns 
Sumerian and Akkadian words and phrases, together with the 
Hittite equivalents (written in cuneiform characters) in the third 
column. In this way a large number of words and forms can be 
identified and, with the complete publication of this kind of ma- 
terial, promised in the near future, there will be little difficulty in 
determining the exact character of the Hittite language. There is 
also reason to hope that with the aid of these transliterated Hittite 
texts it will be possible to find the definite key for the decipherment 
for the hieroglyphic Hittite script. The publication of the impor- 
tant material found by the late Dr. Winckler is now announced 
as ready and is expected to be published within this year by 
Dr. E. F. Weidner. 

w Below, p. 164. 



east of Mesopotamia— in their own language, which is 
represented again by some of the tablets found at 
Boghaz-Keui. Even Greek was written in cuneiform 
characters, as some tablets published a number of years 
ago by Pinches showed. 04 

It is evident from this that the influence exerted by 
the civilization of Babylonia and Assyria extended 
throughout the ancient world, prompting the Egyptian 
scribes to learn cuneiform so as to carry on a corre- 
spondence with Babylonian rulers and with the gov- 
ernors of Palestinian and Phoenician centres, and lead- 
ing the Hittites in the north to exchange cuneiform as 
a more convenient mode of writing for their own hiero- 
glyphic script, 95 and resulting in the adoption of a 
cuneiform script by the Elamites as well as by their 
successors, the Persian rulers. Within Babylonia and 
Assyria the script, developing from an archaic to sev- 
eral varieties of more modern forms, survived the fall 
of the Babylonian empire through Cyrus" conquest and 
even the coming of the Greeks, for cuneiform inscrip- 
tions from the days of the Greek supremacy have been 
found, and it is not until almost the threshold of the 
Christian era that the use of this form of writing finally 
disappears. The latest cuneiform inscription dates 
from the year 80 B.C. 

** Greek Transcriptions of Babylonian Tablets (Proceedings of 
the Society of Biblical Archeology, vol xxiv [1902], pp. 118-119). 
These fragments of tablets, containing transcriptions of Greek words 
in cuneiform, furnished incidentally a further confirmation — 
though at the time of Pinches' publication no longer necessary — 
of the correctness of the method of reading the Babylonian- Assyrian 
cuneiform characters. 

•• For the Hittite inscriptions see Messerschmidt, Corpus Jn- 
scriptionum Hettiticarum (Mittetlungen der Vorderasiatischen 
Gesellschaft, 1900, No. 4- 1902, No. 3; 1906, No. 5} ; Garstang, The 
Land of the Hittites (London, 1910) ; Ed. Meyer, Reich uud Kultur 
der Chet titer (Berlin, 1914) ; and the recent attempt at decipher- 
ment by R, C. Thompson, A New Decipherment of the Hittite 
Hieroglyphics ( Areheologia, vol. Ixiv, Oxford, 1913, pp. 1-144). 



Lastly a word as to the origin of the cuneiform 
script from a pictorial form. We have carried back the 
forms of cuneiform writing used outside of Babylonia 
and Assyria to the influence exerted by these two em- 
pires, whose civilization originating in the Euphrates 
Valley is the result of the commingling of Sumerians 
and Akkadians, The oldest form of cuneiform writ- 
ing, therefore, is that represented by the oldest inscrip- 
tions of Babylonia which, we have seen, are couched 
in Sumerian. The script, however, in these Sumerian 
inscriptions, while archaic, is far removed from the 
state in which each sign represented a picture. More- 
over, we have seen that contrary to the opinion at first 
held by scholars, the Sumerian in the form that we 
have it is no longer a purely ideographic mode of writ- 
ing, but has already advanced to the syllabic stage in 
which a sign is used to represent a sound and no longer 
merely the word for which it stands. A careful study, 
however, of the forms of the characters enables us to 
pass beyond the wedge-shaped variety of cuneiform to 
a linear type; and in many cases it is not difficult to 
recognize in the linear outlines the remains of a picture, 
representing one of the words for which the sign stands. 
Thus the linear form fc of the sign for sun, day, light, 
which in the wedge-form becomes *T is clearly a de- 
rivative of a picture of the sun sending forth its rays. 
The sign for eye, face, seeing, which in the wedge-shape 
takes on the form icjt- is in the linear form (J- and it is 
not difficult to recognize in this the outlines of an eye. 
The sign for man *5£ is in the linear form 4fcm», which 
suggests a man lying on his back. 

To set forth in detail how, starting with a series of 
pictures, the writing, passing through various stages, 
developed to a linear form, suitable for transferring 
characters to a hard material and then by further stages 
was transformed to a wedge-shaped variety, better 
adapted for writing on a soft substance like clay, would 


carry us too far. Xor is it necessary for our purpose, 
which is merely to call attention at the close of this 
chapter to the manner in which the cuneiform script 
originated, to do so. Prof. Barton, who has recently 
published an elaborate work on the *' Origin of Cunei- 
form Writing/' *• in which he has embodied the results 
of many years of study, has added valuable tables of 
signs showing the changes they underwent in passing 
from the oldest to the latest period. He has also en- 
deavored to reconstruct the objects represented by the 
signs. Thanks to the ingenious method pursued by 
him and to his wide and accurate scholarship, he has 
succeeded in a large number of instances in giving us 
the picture originally represented. Naturally some of 
his identifications are open to question. In a problem 
of this kind one must not expect that all phases of it 
can be satisfactorily solved. From a survey of the 
objects represented — animals, parts of the body, instru- 
ments, pictures of water, of stars, trees and plants — 
and making due allowance for doubtful cases, we reach 
the general conclusion that the script originated at a 
time when already a considerable advance in culture 
had been madejand in a land in which agricultural con- 
ditions prevailed, in which animals had been domesti- 
cated, and the gods identified with personifications of the 
stars, by ihe side of the moon and sun. There is nothing, 
however, to indicate more precisely where the script 
originated. It may have been brought by the Sumerians 
to the Euphrates Valley and perfected by them there, 
or it may have originated in the Euphrates Valley or 
the neighboring district of Elam. It is not impossible 
that the proto-Elamitic script, to which a reference has 
above been made, ST may revert to the same source as 
the picture-writing underlying the oldest form of 
Sumerian inscriptions. Until we can determine more 
accurately whence the Sumerians came and how far 

••Beitrage zur Assyriologie, vol. ix (1912-1913). 
• 7 Above, p< 113, seq. 



back the Smnerian culture can be traced, it is idle to 
speculate further. Archeology has given us so many 
surprises that it is riot out of the question that we should 
come across traces of a still earlier culture than the 
Sunierian or the proto-Elamitic, 9a from which both may 
have derived their inspiration, and with this a pictorial 
script further developed by each group and adapted to 
its purposes. 90 

From the linear form we can without difficulty trace 
the further development to the latest stage of wedge- 
writing. Variant forms continued to arise both in 
Assyria and Babylonia and there can be no question 
that the neo-Elamitic cuneiform or Class II represents 
a variety of the Babylonian script simplified and 
adapted to Elamitic about the twelfth century B.C., 
further modified in the course of time, while the Persian 
variety represents another more simplified adaptation 
made in the sixth or possibly as early as the seventh 
century B.C. 

• 8 See King 's ingenious suggestion in the appendix to his His- 
tory of Sumer and Akkad (London, 1910), in which he takes up 
this problem. 

•• See further on this subject besides Barton T s book, Possey 's 
chapter on the Ideographic Origin and Evolution of Cuneiform 
Writing in his Manuel d'Assyriologic, pp. 245-268, and Delitzsch's 
Entstehung des altesten Schriftsystems oder der Ursprung der 
KeHschriftzeichen (Leipzig, 1897), the first thorough discussion of 
the subject, full of valuable suggestions, though some of the views 
set forth must be modified in the light of later researches. 



In any general survey of the history of Babylonia 
and Assyria there are two facts of fundamental im- 
portance to be borne in mind : first, that the course of 
civilization in the land of the Euphrates and Tigris 
proceeds to the north, and second, that the culture is 
the outcome of a mixture of two diverse elements — of 
a non-Semitic with a Semitic population. The obvious 
conclusion from the first fact is that the settlements 
in the south, in what is known as the Euphrates Valley, 
are older than those in the north — a conclusion con- 
firmed by the excavations conducted at southern 
mounds, which have yielded us the documents for trac- 
ing the civilization to a very early period, though as 
yet insufficient for carrying us back to the small be- 
ginnings. The second fact prepares us for the dis- 
tinguishing feature of the oldest period as likewise 
revealed by the monuments, to wit, the struggle between 
the non-Semites or the Sumerians, and the Semites or 
Akkadians for supremacy. 

This struggle represents the natural process in the 
assimilation of two apparently incompatible elements. 
Civilization may be described as the spark that ensues 
when opposing ethnic elements come into contact. Cul- 
ture up to a certain grade may develop in any centre 
spontaneously, but a high order of civilization is always 
produced through the combination of heterogeneous 
ethnic elements. 

There is no more foolish boast than that of purity 
of race. A pure race, as I have it put elsewhere/ if it 
exists at all, is also a sterile race. 

1 Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and 
Assyria, p. 5. 


Whether the Semitic Akkadians were the fast 
settlers in the Euphrates Valley or the non-Semitic 
Sumerians is a question to which, as indicated in the 
last chapter, 2 no definite reply can be given in the 
present state of our knowledge* My own inclination is 
to side with Eduard Meyer, 8 to give the benefit of the 
doubt to the Akkadians and to assume that the Su- 
merians, who we have every reason to believe were a 
mountainous people, entered the Valley from the north- 
east (or northwest) as conquerors — bringing a certain 
degree of culture with them, but which through the 
contact with the Akkadian population was further 
stimulated and modified until it acquired the traits dis- 
tinguishing it when we obtain our earliest glimpse 
of political, social and religious conditions in the 
Euphrates Valley* 

Fortunately, through the monuments of Telloh, 
Sippar, Nippur and Bismya, and through the designs 
on numerous seal cylinders, we are in a position to 
picture to ourselves this non-Semitic race.* They are 
portrayed in contrast to the Akkadians as beardless 
and generally, though not always, with shaven heads. 
The general type suggests a comparison with the Mon- 
golian race. The shape of the head was inclined 
towards roundness, the cheek bones were prominent 
and the nose was not full and fleshy as was the case 
with the Akkadians. The dress in the earliest period 
consisted of a plain or fringed garment, hanging from 
the waist or was formed in more elaborate fashion of 
three to five flounces — yielding, however, at a later 
period to a shawl or mantle, decorated with a border, 
drawn over the left shoulder and falling in straight 
folds. In contrast, we find the Akkadians represented 

* Page 107. 

■ Sumerier und Semiten in Babylonten, p. 107, seq. 

♦See the accompanying illustrations, and further in Meyer, 
Sumerier und Semiten in Babylonten, and in Jastrow, BUdermappe 
zur Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, Nos. 1-7. 



with hair and beard, though it would appear that in 
consequence of a new wave of Semitic immigration 
about the time of Hammurapi or shortly before, the 
Bedouin custom was introduced of shaving the mous- 
tache. The features, particularly the long-shaped head 
and the fleshy nose, are unmistakably Semitic In dress 
the Semites are represented by the loin cloth or by a 
plaid wrapped around the body, falling in parallel 
bands, with the ends thrown around the left shoulder. 
The Sumerians appear also to have had the custom of 
wearing wigs, as the Egyptians, perhaps limited to cere- 
monial occasions, though to what extent and during 
what periods the custom prevailed it is difficult to say. 
Curiously enough the gods, even in the oldest monu- 
ments, have abundant hair and long beards,* but with 
lips and cheeks often shaven, from which Professor 
Meyer has drawn the inference that the Sumerians, 
while retaining some of the customs that they brought 
with them, assimilated their gods to those worshipped 
in the land into which they came and therefore repre- 
sented them as Semitic. 

Beside some form of writing which, as pointed out, 
the Sumerians may have brought with them, but further 
developed after their conquest of the Euphrates Valley, 
they appear to have been skilled in sculpturing in terra- 
cotta and in stone, advancing gradually also to work- 
ing in metals. Naturally, here again it is difficult to 
draw the line between what they brought into the 
country and the share of their artistic achievements 
due to their contact with the Semitic settlers, but since 
the Euphrates Valley is devoid of stone and metals, the. 
balance is again in favor of the assumption that they 
brought some measure of artistic skill with them.* 

The architecture in the earliest period is conditioned 
by the native soil which furnishes clay as a building 
material that was readily adapted for the construction 

* See Meyer, I.e., p. 95, seq. 

• Further details in Chapter VII, 


of houses and temples, consisting of both unburnt and 
burnt bricks. The only characteristic structure that, 
may be safely ascribed to Sumerian initiative is th& 
stage-tower attached to the temples in all important 
centres. 7 


The change in habitat from a hilly country to a flat 
one was a momentous factor that brought with it an 
adaptation on the part of the Sumerians to the new 
conditions. In their mountain homes we may well sup- 
pose the Sumerians to have been hunters — of which a 
trace remains in the Biblical tradition that makes 
Nimrod, pictured as one of the founders of the 
Euphratean culture, a mighty hunter, whereas the con- 
ditions natural to the rich soil of southern Babylonia 
led to agriculture. 

The political feature at the earliest period at pres- 
ent known to us, which may be roughly fixed on the 
basis of the material at our disposal at 4000 to 3500 B.C., 
is the existence of a number of cities under the control 
of Sumerians, each one of which formed a centre for a 
district of varying extent. These cities lay along the 
Euphrates or on one of the various arms into which it 
divides in the marshy districts. Owing, however, to 
the choking up of the bed of the river and of its tribu- 
taries, the direction of the Euphrates was subject to fre- 
quent changes, so that the location of the mounds be- 
neath which cities like Nippur, Cuthah, Uruk, Sippar, 
Shuruppak lay buried, is at some distance to the east 
from the bed of the Euphrates, or from one of its 

We find the south itself divided into two sections, 
the southern part, known as Suiner, which is the main 
stronghold of the non-Semitic conquerors, and the 
northern section of the Euphrates Valley, Akkad, where 
the Semites gradually developed the strength neces- 

T Sec above II, note 13 ; pp. 23 and 30, scq. 



sary to meet the Sumerians on their own ground. A 
sharp boundary between Sinner and Akkad probably 
never existed, but in a general way Nippur may be re- 
garded as the line of demarcation, so that Eridu, Larsa, 
Ur, Adab, Isin, Lagash, Shuruppak, Urnma, Uruk 
with Nippur, constitute the chief centres in the south, 
and Cuthah, Opis, Akkad, Kish, Babylon and Sippar 
the most important cities of the north. Nor can a 
sharp line be drawn between the non-Semitic and 
Semitic settlements, beyond the general proposition 
that the Semites, while commingling in part with the 
Sumerians, were also in part driven back to the north- 
ern part of the Euphrates Valley. At all events, the 
south remained the chief seat of Sumerian pow r er, 
though northern centres like Kish, Cuthah and Opis 
were for a period of indifferent extent also in the hands 
of the Sumerians. 

We are not able as yet to trace the history of the 
Euphrates Valley back to the time when the Sumerians 
were in complete and absolute control. The oldest 
inscriptions so far recovered already give evidence of 
a decline of the south, with the tendency towards a 
growth of power in the northern centres. We know 
nothing of the earliest history of Eridu and little of 
such centres as Uruk and Adab ; and until excavations 
carry us nearer to the beginnings of Sumerian suprem- 
acy, we must rest content with the testimony fur- 
nished by the material at our disposal that there was 
no union or, at all events, no permanent union between 
the cities of Sumer and that no ruler of any Sumerian 
centre exercised control over all of Sumer and Akkad. 
The relationship between the states would therefore be 
marked by hostilities alternating with treaties that 
served to keep the peace for a while, and with combina- 
tions of some of these city states against other groups. 
The central feature in each of these cities was the 
sanctuary dedicated to the local patron deity. So close 
was the association between the god and his city, that 


the former either directly gave his name to the place, 
or the place was known as the city of the god in ques- 
tion. The more precise character of these city gods we 
will have occasion to consider in the next chapter. The 
point of importance to us in an historical survey is to 
note that the jurisdiction of a deity was coextensive 
with the district controlled by his followers. The single 
exception to this general direction taken by the associa- 
tion of a deity with a city is formed by the god Enlil, 
who, although the god of the city of Nippur, was in 
this first period of Euphratean history the acknowl- 
edged head of the pantheon. 8 In part this no doubt 
was due to the important position occupied by Nippur 
when the Sumerians obtained the mastery in the 
Euphrates Valley, but in large part the special position 
acquired by EnlU is to be accounted for by the circum- 
stance that as a storm-god having his seat on some 
mountain-peak, he was the chief of the gods worshipped 
by the conquerors before they left their mountain 

Curiously enough, however, we have not come across 
any records of a powerful dynasty established in 
Nippur as a centre. Instead, the earliest traditions of 
the Euphrates Valley, carrying us back to the mythical 
age, in which rulers are pictured as deities or of divine 
descent, ruling for as many centuries as in historical 
time years, give Kish and Uruk as the first two dy- 

8 See further, p. 195, seq. 

9 See the publication of important lists of early mythical or 
semi-mythical rulers, followed by historical dynasties, in Poebel's 
Historical and Grammatical Texts, pages 73 to 96. 

These lists show us, during the first two recorded dynasties of 
Kish and of Uruk, rulers who reign from 410 to 1200 years, and 
among the names of such rulers are the mythical rulers Etana and 
Oilgamesh, of the former of whom a story is told of an attempted 
flight to heaven on the back of an eagle, while the latter is the 
famous central figure of the great Babylonian epic. 

The high figures given for the reigns or lives of these rulers are 



nasties, after which we come to <a series of rulers with 
Ur as a political centre and the length of whose reigns 
shows that we have reached a more definite historical 
tradition. Beyond names and indications of lengths of 
reigns, however, — and these often uncertain — we know 
nothing further of this earliest period until we come 
down to about the year 3200 B.C. 


The accident that so much of our earliest historical 
material comes from the excavations on the site of the 
ancient city of Lagash 10 naturally places this city in 
the foreground of our horizon, but making due allow- 
ance for this fact, it is nevertheless certain that Lagash 
played a most important role as early at least as 3000 
B.C., and exercised at one time a sway over a consider- 
able portion of Sumer, including Nippur. Its most 
serious rival at the time when the outlines of this period 
become defined with sufficient clearness to enable us 
to grasp some details is the city of Kish, whose patron 
deity w r as a solar god known as Zamama. Indeed, a 
ruler, Mesilim, whose date can be approximately fixed 
at 3100 B.C., claimed Lagash as a part of his territory. 
This condition must have lasted for some time, for a 
patesi of Lagash, Entemena, whose date may be fixed 
as c. 2850 B.C., refers in a historical survey of the 

of the same character as the ages of the antediluvian patriarchs 
in the fifth chapter of Genesis. Both lists are no douht based 
upon some artificially constructed system, though exactly of what 
nature scholars have not ascertained. To discuss the bearings of 
these important lists, published by Poebel, in detail would carry 
us too far and must be left for some other occasion. Suffice it 
to say that the existence of such lists, which evidently form part 
of the school archives of ancient Babylonian centres, shows con- 
clusively that the accounts of early Babylonian rulers given by 
Berosus (see Cory, Ancient Fragments, page 51, seq.) pest upon 
actual material which was utilized by Berosus. 
10 Above, p. 39, seq. 


relations between Lagash and a neighboring centre, 
Umma, to Mesilim's intervention as arbitrator between 
the two hostile districts. Through his mediation a 
treaty was made, fixing the boundary line between 
Lagash and Umma. 11 

There are reasons for believing that not long before 
the days of Mesilim, the conditions were reversed and 
that Kish was in a state of dependency upon Lagash or 
some other centre, for a ruler, Utug, 12 who is in all 
probabilities older than Mesilim, calls himself patesi 
of Kish, on a vase offered as a tribute to Enlil of Nip- 
pur, in commemoration of a victory over the land of 
KhamazL Under Eannatum, Kish again falls into the 
hands of Lagash, which, however, was not able to hold 
it for a long time. The Semites, perhaps originally 
pressed into service as mercenaries by the rulers of 
Kish, 18 obtain control for a time — the first indication 
of the coming Semitic conquest of the Euphrates Val- 
ley, but are again pushed back by Sumerians. Such a 
constant shift of political conditions extends over a 
long period, until Lugalzaggisi, of Uruk (c. 2675 B.C.), 
comes to the fore, puts an end to the independence of 

ash, and this time in an effective manner. 
The treaty between Lagash and Kish, above referred 

>, took place c. 3050 b.c, as nearly as we can calculate 
it present; and we are safe in assuming that the su- 
premacy exercised by Kish over important centres in 
the south began perhaps a century earlier and lasted 
until c. 2975 B.C., when we find a ruler on the throne of 
Lagash, Ur-Nina, who adopts the title of king, whose 
reign was marked by an era of peace, during which 
commerce flourished and the ruler was able to devote 
himself to the welfare of his subjects and to honoring 
the gods by beautifying their temples and bringing to 

1 l Heuzey, Decouvertes en Chalde'e, PL 47, and Thureau-Dangiii, 
Sumer. und Akkad. Komgsinschriften, p. 36, 

Hilprecht, Old Babylonian Inscriptions, I, 2, No. 108, seq. 
18 So Meyer, Geschichte, I, 2, p. 481. 



their shrines evidence of his loyalty and affection in 
the shape of tributes and votive offerings. We have a 
remarkable series of limestone plaques showing TTr- 
Nina and his family in the act of taking part in the 
building of the temple E-Ninnu to Ningirsu — the main 
sacred edifice in Lagash. 14 He is also occupied with 
strengthening the wall of Lagash and in digging nu- 
merous canals and reservoirs, clearly intended to regu- 
late the annual overflow of the Euphrates and to direct 
its waters into the fields. By the extension of this 
canal system, upon which the prosperity and growth of 
the country so largely depended, he established his claim 
to being a ruler devoted to the welfare of his subjects. 
Conditions changed soon after the death of Ur-Nina. 
His successor, Akurgal, appears to have been troubled 
again by the old-time rival and enemy to the north, 
Umma, though the crisis is not reached until the days 
of his son, Eannatum, c. 2920 B.C. The men of Uinina 
removed the stele set up by Mesilim, the king of Kish, 
as the boundary between Lagash and Umma. This was 
the signal for an outbreak that ended disastrously for 
the district of which Umma was the centre. Eannatum 
appeals to his god Ningirsu for help. Ningirsu appears 
to Eannatum in a dream and promises victory over the 
enemy. Thus encouraged, Eannatum gathers his army 
and sets out for the encounter. The result was a total 
defeat of Umma, of whose warriors Eannatum assures 
us that he slew thirty-six hundred. 45 The victory was 
followed up by the pursuit of the fleeing army. Ean- 
natum takes Umma by assault, sweeping all before him, 
as he tells us, "like a destructive storm." In commem- 
oration of the engagement he sets up a monument, 16 on 
which he depicts in vivid form the incidents of the 

14 See Plate XL VI, Pig. 1. 

lft The number is under suspicion of being a round one, but 
nevertheless it furnishes us with an indication of the numbers that 
must have engaged in the struggle. 

" See Plate XLVII and XLVIII and the description of the 
monument p. 387, seq. 



battle. The old boundary stone was again set up and 
a new treaty made between Eannatum and Enakalli, 
the successor of Ush, who probably perished in the 
encounter. The district of Gu-eddin, wrongfully ap- 
propriated by Umma, was restored and a tribute im- 
posed. A large booty was secured, and in commemora- 
tion of the event shrines were erected on the frontier 
to various deities, — to Enlil and his consort, Ninkhar- 
sag, to Ningirsu and Utu (the sun-god) for their assist- 
ance. A solemn oath was sworn by the two sides. "I 
have sworn the oath," says Eannatum, "and the men 
of Umma have sworn the oath to Eannatum, in the 
name of Enlil, the king of heaven and earth. ... If 
at any time they shall deviate from this agreement, may 
the great net of Enlil, in whose name they have sworn 
this oath, overwhelm them." The gods thus become 
the active partners in the events of the day. 

The events narrated on the remarkable monument 
which a fortunate chance has in part preserved for us 

I are typical of the political history of the Euphratean 
states in this early period, marked by a frequent shift- 
ing of the particles in the political kaleidoscope, as a 
consequence of which now the one, now the other of the 
various rival states secures a temporary supremacy, 
without, however, any permanent coalition into a united 
empire. For the time being Lagash wields the baton 
of authority, not only over the district of Umma, but 
also over that of Kish, which appears to have sided with 
Umma and whose king, Al-zu(f), was captured and 
probably slain. Eannatum followed up his success by 
other conquests, bringing a troublesome district, Opis, 
in the north, into subjection, exercising supremacy over 
Uruk, Ur, Larsa and other centres of the south and even 
extending his control to Elam on the east, beyond the 
bounds proper of the Euphrates Valley. The successors 




of Eannatum, Enannatum I and Entcmena, were able 
to resist the attempt of Umma to throw off the yoke, 
and they forced their own minions on the people as 
patesis or governors of the district ; they also kept Elam 
in check, though not without a severe struggle. But they 
seemed unable to prevent internal abuses from creeping 
in, which undermined the very foundations of govern- 
ment. The evidence for this is found in the inscrip- 
tions of a ruler, Urukagina (c 2700 B.C.), 17 who tells 
us of his efforts to rescue the various classes of the 
population — he names boatmen, shepherds, fishermen 
and farmers — from the priests, into whose clutches they 
liad fallen. The temples had profited by the general 
prosperity and become powerful commercial organiza- 
tions which exercised a pressure on the land. Urukagina 
goes so far as to accuse the priests of robbing the fanner 
of the fruit of his labors, of imposing exorbitant taxes 
on the fishermen, of taking bribes and of thwarting 
justice in their capacity as the controllers of the courts 
of] aw. 
f^ Urukagina puts an end to this shameful state of 
Laffairs by sweeping the corrupt army of officials out 
of office and by setting up a body of laws, regulating 
the taxes and fees, protecting the helpless against ex- 
tortion, providing against violent alienation of goods 
or property. In his days divorces had been obtained 
by means of bribes given to the officials, and even 
divination had been carried on amidst similar abuses, 
the exorbitant fee for the service being divided among 
the patesi, his chief vizir and the priest. These matters 
were also regulated and it is of special interest to note 
that Urukagina 's new code did away with polyandry. 
"Women were formerly possessed by two men. Now 
women in such a case will be thrown into the stream 
(?)." Urukagina sums up the contrast epigrammati- 

17 Thureau-Dangin, Sunierisch-Akkadische Konigsinschriften, 
pp. 44-57. 


cally between former and present conditions by declar- 
ing that "formerly there was slavery, now freedom has 
been established." 

The movement for reform, however, came too late, 
as is often the case in history. The strength of the 
country had been sapped, and in a long inscription 
dating from Urukagina's reign, a scribe pathetically 
records the violent acts of the old-time enemy, Umma, 
in invading Lagash and destroying the sanctuaries 
there and elsewhere. 

Urukagina suffered the fate of so many reformers 
in reaping the ingratitude of those whom he intended 
to benefit. The priests no doubt secured the cooperation 
of the nobles and officials in arousing opposition against 
the endeavor of the king to deprive them of the benefits 
they had so long enjoyed, and it is not impossible that 
they may have stood in league with the enemy in order 
to humiliate and overthrow their own ruler. At all 
events Lugalzaggisi triumphed over Lagash, reduced it 
to a state of subserviency so that the rulers once more 
became merely patesis, and succeeded in securing a 
supremacy over the districts of which Nippur, Uruk, 
Ur and Larsa were the centres. Indeed, if the state- 
ment in a long inscription of his is to be taken literally 
and not as a mere idle boast, he led his victorious armies 
to the Mediterranean, for he speaks of conquering the 
lands from the lower sea of the Tigris and Euphrates 
to the upper sea. He thus foreshadows the world- 
conquest which became the ambition of the later Semitic 
rulers of Babylonia and Assyria, and there is only one 
other ruler in this earlier period with whom he is to be 
compared, namely, Naram-Sin, whose reign we shall 
take up presently. 

The removal of Lugalzaggisi J s capital from Umma 
to Uruk points to the greater importance of the latter 
centre, which is confirmed by the inscriptions of two 
rulers, Lugal-M-gub-niddu and Lugal-kisal-si, who call 



themselves kings of Uruk and kings of Ur. 18 Uruk had 
accordingly succeeded in uniting the important Su- 
xnerian centre, Ur, to her dominion and Lugalzaggisi, 
conquering the extreme south of the Euphrates Valley, 
falls heir to the sovereignty exercised by Uruk, plac- 
ing his title, "King of Uruk," before all others. 

Had Lugalzaggisi succeeded in maintaining the ex- 
tensive kingdom organized by him, the entire course 
of Babylonian history might have been changed. The 
factor that blocked his path was the advance of the 
power of the Semites in the land. It is significant that 
in the long inscription on the votive vase from which 
we have quoted and in which he sums up his achieve- 
ments there is no mention of Kish. We have already 
encountered the influence of this centre in the conflicts 
between Lagash and Umma," and although Mesilim, 
the king of Kish, who intervenes to fix the boundary 
between these two rival states is not a Semite, there is 
every reason to believe that as early as his day, c. 3100 
B.C., Kish contained a considerable Semitic population, 
serving perhaps as mercenaries in the army which three 
centuries later had obtained the upper hand. In an 
inscription 20 which belongs to a period not far removed 
from the time of Lugalzaggisi, we encounter a ruler 
of Kish whose name, Enbi-Ishtar, leaves no doubt of 
his being a Semite. We must assume that Kish had 
recovered its position, for it is through a ruler of this 
centre, Sargon I, that, according to a definite state- 
ment, 21 Lugalzaggisi is overthrown after a reign of 
twenty-five years, that is about 2675 b.c. With Sargon 
we reach the period of a definite advance of the Semites. 
The dynasty founded by him is Semitic in character, 

18 Thureau-Dangin, Lc<, p. 156. 

18 See above, p. 127. 

*° Thureau-Dangin, i.e., p. 152. 

,l See Poebel, in Orientalist. Litteraturzeitung, XV, Sp. 481, seq. 


as is shown by the official language of the royal inscrip- 
tions, which is Akkadian. Sargon, to be sure, conies to 
ash as a conqueror. His starting-point is Agade or 
dead, somewhat to the north, but the independence 
of Kish is maintained, so that he calls himself inter- 
changeably King of Kish and King of Akkad. A list 
recently discovered 22 assigns no less than twelve rulers 
to this dynasty of Akkad, but owing to the defective 
character of the tablet at this point, only the last six 
names and the beginning of the first are clearly pre- 
served so that we are left in doubt as to the balance. 
Through other sources the gap can be partially filled 
out, with the result that by the side of Sargon, the 
founder, we must recognize another bearing a some- 
what similar name, Sharganisharri, who in tradition 
became confused with Shargani or Sargon. 313 Both 
must have been active conquerors, extending their 
dominions beyond the Euphrates Valley, but it looks 
as though the older were the more aggressive of the 
two. He passes to the east and brings Elam under sub- 
jection. In the north he conquers Subartu, an extensive 
district later known from its capital Ashur as the land 
of Ashur or Assyria, and which at this time was the 
seat of a mixed population of Semitic tribes and of 
Hittite groups. Pushing on to the northwest, he checks 
the growing power of the Amorites — "the land of sun- 
set in its totality 7 '— which indicates that he reached 
the shores of the Mediterranean. A rebellion breaks 
out towards the close of Sargon y s reign which, accord- 

22 Published by Scheil, Coniptes Rendus de l'Acad. des Inscrip- 
tions, 1911, p. 606, &eq., and Revue d'Assyriologie t IX, p. 69, See 
Meyer, Geschichte, I, 2 (3d ed.), pp. 343-347, and the same author's 
paper, Zur JEttcsten Geschichte Babylonkns (Abhandl. d. KgL 
Preus. Akad. d. Wiss. PhiL-Hist. Klasse, 1912, p. 1062, seq,), 

" The confusion was facilitated by the fact that the last element 
of the longer name, sharri, means "king/* so that Shargani-sharri, 
meaning " Sargon is king," could easily come to be looked upon as 
embodying a statement of the sovereignty of the older Sargon. 



ing to an official chronicle, he suppresses, but in which 
it is more likely to assume he must have perished, for 
his son tells us, at the beginning of a long inscription, 
of a general uprising of all lands conquered by Sargon. 
The name of the son is broken out, but we can definitely 
say that it was a ruler whose name can be read Uni- 
mush or Rimush, with a preference in favor of the 
latter. 24 Rimush claims to have been successful in 
overcoming his enemies who were led by an Elamite, 
Abalgamash. There is no reason to quest ion the sub- 
stantial accuracy of his narrative, but it is significant 
that he calls himself King of Kish and not of Akkad. 
The conclusion to be drawn is that Kish became the 
capital and remained so in the days of his son Manish- 
tusu, who also boasts of his conquests. It must have 
been difficult, however, for Rimush and Manishtusu to 
maintain their position. The former we know, from 
other sources, was put to death by a conspiracy hatchet" 
among the members of Ms court, while Manishtusu tells 
us of a confederation of thirty-two cities fori: 
against him. Such facts point to disturbed internal 
conditions and to frequent combinations on the part 
of the conquered districts of the Euphrates Valley with 
the help of Elam to throw off the yoke of the Semitic 
rulers, abetted probably by a rivalry between Akkad 
and Kish for the privilege of being the capital of the 
new kingdom. An interesting trace of this rivalry is 
to be found in a most remarkable monument of the 
days of Manishtusu, a large obelisk of diorite, describ- 
ing in detail the purchase of enormous tracts of lands 
in Kish and its environment on which to settle citizens 
of Akkad. 25 The names of eighty-seven overseers of 
certain tracts acquired by the ruler are given; they are 

24 First suggested by Hrozny (Wiener Zeitschrift fur die Kunde 
des Morgenlandes, vol. xxiii, pp. 192, seq. and xxvi, pp. 152). 

* e Published by Scheil, Delegation en Perse, Memoires, II, pp. 1- 
52. The monument is 4y 2 feet high and is closely inscribed on 
four sides. 


removed by Manishtusu to other places, while in their 
place he appoints forty-nine new officials whom he 
calls " citizens of Akkad." Their followers take the 
place of the 1564 laborers employed by the older over- 
seers and who are likewise sent elsewhere. Evidently 
Manishtusu was engaged in a deliberate policy of send- 
ing from Akkad as a disturbing centre portions of the 
population through offering them attractive posts in 
Kish and surrounding sites, where they could be kept 
under surveillance. We are reminded of the similar 
policy of deportation practised by Assyrian and Baby- 
lonian kings many centuries later, and which led to the 
transfer of large numbers of Hebrews, after the fall 
of Samaria and Jerusalem, to various sites on the 
Euphrates and Tigris. 28 


The upshot of the activity of three rulers of un- 
usual aggressiveness, Sargon, Rimush and Manishtusu, 
was a most striking advance of Semitic influence 
throughout the Euphrates Valley — an influence that be- 
came a permanent factor in the further development of 
political affairs. The Semitic rulers of Akkad and 
Kish took up the policy of extending in all directions 
their dominions left them as a legacy by Lugalzaggisi, 
but this ambition overvaulting itself became a source 
of weakness instead of strength. Manishtusu succeeds 
in keeping Elani under subjection and gives evidence 
of his control by dedicating a statue of himself to an 
Elamite god Naruti, 27 but under his successor, Shar- 
ganisharri, we find the Elamites strong enough to make 
an invasion of the Euphrates Valley, advancing as far 
as Opis, not far from Akkad, where they received a 
cheek. Uruk heads a coalition of Sumerian forces 
which was likewise repulsed. Under Naram-Sin, the 
son of Sharganisharri, this disturbed condition reaches 

?tt II Kings 17, 6 ; 24, 12-16. 

ST The bust of the statue was found at Susa. See Plate XXII 1, 
Fig. 2. 


its climax, for lie speaks of combinations of nine rulers 
and even of seventeen kings against him. No doubt he 
exaggerates when he declares that he faced an army 
of 90,000 men drawn up against him, and yet triumphal 
monuments of his reign, including one found far up in 
the north, not far from the source of the Tigris, 28 leave 
no doubt of his far surpassing his father in military ex- 
peditions in all directions — against Elam in the east, 
against Subartu in the north, and the mountainous 
borders in the northeast, as well as against regions lying 
far to northwest and southwest. He thus merited, by 
his achievements, the proud title of "King of the Four 
Quarters," which was equivalent to "King of the Uni- 
verse," borne later by the Assyrian monarehs. Naram- 
Sin appears indeed to have surpassed all of his pre- 
decessors in opening up new fields of conquest, particu- 
larly to the northeast and to the southwest. His father 
had crossed arms with a strong mountainous group 
known as the Guti, and succeeded in capturing their 
king, Sharlak. It was left to the son, however, to fol- 
low up this movement by more systematic endeavors 
and on a larger scale to bring various of the groups in 
these distant, forbidding regions, so difficult of access, 
to subjection. On a monument, noteworthy also as one 
of the finest specimens of the older Babylonian art, 
Naram-Sin gives a vivid picture of his triumph over 
the Lulubaeans and other peoples in the Zagros range. 29 
No less significant was his expedition to Magan, a dis- 
tant land whence diorite was brought in large quan- 
tities for the manufacture of statues and large vessels. 
Occurring frequently by the side of Melucha, Magan 
and Melucha are probably designations of districts 
along the eastern coast of Arabia and the western coast 

ss At Pir Hussein. See Plate L, Fig. 2, and King, History of 
Sumer and Akkad, p. 244. 

" See Plate L, Fig. 1. The monument was found at Susa, whither 
it was carried as a trophy in the eleventh century, as the others 
mentioned above, p. 113. 


of Africa. To have proceeded to such distant climes was 
an achievement hitherto without parallel. We thus 
obtain a view of the strength unfolded at this early 
period by the Semitic settlements of the Euphrates Val- 
ley which makes the achievements of the Sumerians, 
even of a Lugalzaggisi, dwindle into comparative 

It would seem, however, that a decline began soon 
after the death of Naram-Sin, who appears to have been 
succeeded by a second Sharganisharri, of whom we, to 
be sure, know nothing, A period of internal disturb- 
ances sets in, marked by a succession of four rulers 
within three years, so that, as the recently discovered 
list of dynasties puts it, one could not tell "who was 
king and who was not king." 30 It is Uruk, the Su- 
merian centre which Lugalzaggisi raised to its highest 
glory, that succeeds in overthrowing the dynasty of 
Akkad after an existence of 197 years. We may fix 
this event approximately in the year 2475 B.C. 

The overthrow of so powerful a dynasty as that of 
Akkad must have affected the entire country ; it was a 
signal for the older, once independent centres, to assert 
themselves. Among these centres we find Lagash profit- 
ing to a special degree by the growing weakness of 
Akkad, for there must have been preliminary symptoms 
of decay before the final catastrophe set in. Among the 
most remarkable monuments found at Lagash are nine 
diorite statues of a ruler, 31 Gudea, who, although he still 
retains the title of patesi, appears to have been entirely 
independent. Inscriptions in large numbers on the 
statues in question, on two large clay barrels and on 
votive objects confirm the power wielded by Gudea, 
whose emissaries are sent to the north and south to 
obtain wood and stone for his buildings and works of 
art with which he embellishes his seat of residence. He 

"See Poebel's ingenious interpretation of the text (Oriental. 
Litteraturzeitung, XV, Sp. 481). 

11 Above, p. 41 See Plate XIII and Plate XII, Fig. 2. 



does not, indeed, lay claim to the control of lands out- 
side of his district, but it is significant that he has access 
to them. The only war in which he engages is a conflict 
against Elam which ends iu victory and a large booty 
for Gudea. This booty is promptly dedicated to his 
god, Ningirsu, and deposited in the temple, E-Ninnu, 
at Lagash, to the enlargement of which he devoted his 
chief energy. Gudea 's date can be approximately fixed 
at e. 2450 B.C. With him Lagash rises to new splendor, 
though the way is paved in a measure by his predeces- 
sor, Ur-Bau, from whose reign we have a number of 
monuments testifying to the growing power of the dis- 
trict ruled by Ur-Bau while still owing nominal allegi- 
ance to Akkad. Whether Uruk at the time that it 
became the heir of Akkad succeeded in seeming con- 
trol of Lagash is uncertain, but with the coming of 
an invasion from the north, the glory of Lagash 
vanishes again as suddenly as it reached its climax 
under Gudea. 

The regions to the north and particularly those 
groups in the mountainous district of the upper section 
of the Tigris not only regained their independence as 
the dynasty of Akkad approached its close, but one of 
these groups, the Guti, took their revenge for the humil- 
iation inflicted upon them by Sharganisharri and 
Naram-Sin by making an incursion into the Euphrates 
Valley. For a period of about fifty years a Guti dy- 
nasty actually occupied the throne, presumably choos- 
ing Uruk as the seat of residence. Such, then, was the 
sad result of the conflict between Sumerians and 
Semites for control on the one hand and of the am- 
bitious efforts on the other, inaugurated by Lugalzag- 
gisi and continued by Sargon, Sharganisharri and 
Naram-Sin to pass beyond the natural confines of the 
Euphrates Valley. The terror aroused by this northern 
foe, sweeping down upon the cultivated cities of the 
plain from their mountain homes with all the violence 
of an elemental force, must have been extreme. Utuche- 


gal, who succeeds in driving the Guti out of the coun- 
try, 32 gives ns a vivid picture of the ravages committed. 
He calls the Guti "the dragon of the mountains, the 
enemy of the gods/' and describes how they tore the 
wives away from their husbands, robbing parents of 
their children and spreading devastation on all sides. 
Such invasions of semi-barbarous groups from the 
northwest and northeast were destined to repeat them- 
selves frequently in the course of Babylonian-Assyrian 
history and inflicted a serious check to the advance of 
the Euphratean culture, though on the other hand 
they lead fierce tribes to take on at least a veneer of 
culture through contact with a higher civilization/' 1 
Tribute was no doubt exacted from the conquered 
groups, and relationships were maintained with Magan 
and Melueha to the extent of procuring stones and 
metals from these rich districts; but the control over 
such sections as Subartu and the more distant settle- 
ments of the Amorites could at most have been nominal. 
The more direct result was the check given to the ad- 
vance of the Semites, and another period of 250 years 
elapsed before the latter were strong enough again to 
risk a passage of arms with the Sumerians. 


With the temporary eclipse of the power of the 
Semites, the old-time rivalry between the Sumerian 
states, which we have seen was typical of conditions 
prevailing until the days of Lugalzaggisi, again sets in. 

" See the important inscription of this ruler published with a 
translation and commentary by Thureau-Dangin in the Revue 
d'Auyrwlogie, IX, pp. 114-120. 

" We have an Akkadian inscription of Lasirab, King of the 
Guti (Thureau-Dangin, Sumeriseh-Akkadische Kanigsinschriften, 
p. 170), of Erridupizir, who calls himself "King of Guti, King of 
the four quarters" (Hilprecht, Earliest Version of the Deluge, 
p. 20, $eq.) and of Anubanini, King of the Lulubi (Thureau- 
Dangin, I.e., p, 172). 



Ur which had been forced to play a secondary role 
in the combination with Uruk reasserts itself, and about 
thirty years after Utuehegal's accession Urengnr suc- 
ceeds (c. 2450 b,c.) in making Ur once more the capital 
of a united Sumerian kingdom, For 117 years this 
dynasty maintained itself and the orderly succession 
of its five rulers from father to son — Urengur, Dungi, 
Pursin, Gimilsin and Ibisin — bears witness to the 
tranquil conditions which these rulers established. The 
same testimony is borne by the large number of busi- 
ness documents 34 that we have of this period which 
give evidence of an extensive commercial activity that 
goes hand in hand with political stability, while the 
dates attached to these documents, the years being still 
marked in this period by important events, 85 likewise 
show that the rulers were able to devote themselves 
chiefly to works of peace, such as the rebuilding of 
walls or of temples to the chief deities in a variety of 
centres, Nippur, Eridu, Uruk, Larsa, Lagash and above 
all in Ur, and in otherwise improving and embellishing 
these and other cities and towns. Occasionally Elani 
to the east gives the rulers of Ur trouble, but far more 
serious was the menace from the distant north. Dungi, 
the second ruler of the dynasty, undertakes no less than 
nine campaigns against the land of Sumuru and Lu- 
lubi. These groups show the same resistance to a for- 
eign yoke that formerly characterized the Guti, of 
whom we hear nothing during the period of the Ur 
dynasty and who, while unable to stand up against 
better disciplined forces, rebelled again and again as 
the opportunity offered. 

We do not as yet know the circumstances as a con- 
sequence of which the Ur dynasty came to an end, 
through the capture of its last representative, Ibisin, 

»*See Legrain, Leg Temps des Eois d'Ur (Paris, 1912). 

** The dating of years by the reign of rulers is not introduced 
until the time of the Cassite dynasty in the eighteenth century. 
See below, pp. 156 and 351. 


by the Elamites, c. 2330 B.C. Presumably, a combina- 
tion of various centres was formed which did not hesi- 
tate to call in the assistance of the common enemy to 
the east. Between the dynasty of Akkad and that of 
Ur, Elam had enjoyed a short era of independence 
during which one of her rulers, Basha-Shushinak, actu- 
ally lays claim to the control of the "four quarters." 
It is not impossible that the Elamites were aided by 
Semites, whose influence, at all events, must have been 
considerable in this district, for we find the rulers 
using Akkadian instead of their own language in official 
inscriptions, and for a number of centuries business 
documents are also couched in Akkadian, though about 
the middle of the second millennium before this era a 
reaction sets in which leads to the reintroduction of the 
Elamite speech. Towards the close of the Ur dynasty 
there are indications of a reassertion of power in Elam 
which led to open hostilities and the overthrow of the 
Ur dynasty. In place of the latter centre, we find Isin 
the seat of a dynasty which maintained itself for 225 
years (c. 2350-2125 b.c), though its rulers content 
themselves with the title of "King of Sumer and Ak- 
kad" and were unable to prevent the simultaneous rise 
of an independent, smaller monarchy in Larsa which 
outlived that of Isin and whose rulers maintained 
themselves till 2090 B.C., when its last representative, 
Rim-Sin, was forced to yield to the great conqueror 
Hammurapi. 36 The kings of Larsa also exercised con- 
trol over Ur, sometimes designating themselves as kings 
of Ur, but more frequently as patrons. These rival 
dynasties of Isin and Larsa must often have been in 
conflict with each other, but unfortunately the century 
and a half following the overthrow of Ur is one for 
which few historical documents have as yet been found. 
Uruk also appears to have had a number of independ- 
ent rulers, until a ruler, Rim-Sin, of Eiamitic origin 
obtains control of Larsa, and thence as a centre both 
M See below, p. 146 



overthrows Uruk and puts an end to the Isin dynasty. 
The period was therefore one in which the centralizing 
tendency of former days was considerably weakened 
and a gradual return to the conditions prevailing be- 
fore the time of Lugalzaggisi is brought about. 

The rulers of Isin apart from their inability 
retain control of important centres in the Euphrat 
Valley were menaced chiefly from two sides — from the 
east through the formation of a new Elamitic state ii 
the district of Eamutbal (or Jamutbal), the borderlanc 
to the east of the Tigris, and from the north througt 
the rise of an Amorite dynasty which established itsel 
in the city of Babylon c. 2225 b.c, not long after the 
death of the usurper Amel-Ninib (c. 2256-2228 B.C.), 
and controlled northern Babylonia. The formation of 
an independent Elamitic state on the border betweei 
Babylonia and Elam proper is another indication bott 
of the weakness of the Isin dynasty and of the inabilit) 
of the central Elamitic power with its seat in the caj 
ital, Susa, to maintain the integrity of the empire. 87 
From AshurbanapaTs inscriptions we know that he 
recaptured a statue of the goddess Nana, of Urul 
which he says the Elamites had carried away as 
trophy 1635 years ago, 38 which brings us to the yes 
2280 or, according to a variant, 1535 years, which woulc 
be equivalent to 2180. He names as the Elamite ruler 
who plundered the temples of the Euphrates Valley, 
Kudurnanchundi, and since we know of a ruler oi 
Emutbal, Kudurmabug, containing the same element, 
Kudur, it is quite possible that Kudurnanchundi be- 
longs to the Emutbal dynasty rather than to one which 
reigned in Susa. If this be so, the lower date is prob- 
ably the more correct of the two, for shortly after 
2180 B.C., we find Kudurmabug as ruler of Emutbal 

17 See further on the relationship between this central kingdom 
of Elam and the rulers of Emutbal, Meyer, Geschiehte des Alter- 
turns, I, 2, p. 601-605. 

" Rawlinson, V, PL 6, 107, with parallel passages. 


(c. 2150 B.C.) actively interfering in the affairs of the 
Euphrates Valley; he rescues Larsa out of the hands 
of a certain Mutiabal and places his own son Aradsin 
in control. 3 * This date is coequal with the beginning 
of the reign of the last ruler of the Isin dynasty and 
we have seen that the last sixty years of this period 
were marked by internal disturbances. After a reign 
of twelve years Aradsin is succeeded by his brother, 
Rim-Sin. During the reign of these two sons of Ku- 
durmabug, Elamitic influences must have been para- 
mount. They no doubt kept close relations with 
Emutbal, which at this period exercised a sway over 
the old kingdom of Elani, with its capital at Susa, 
whose rulers became vassals of the kings of Emutbal. 


The Sumerian domination of the Euphrates Valley 
thus comes to an end. An entirely new situation had 
been created by this astonishing aggressiveness of 
Elamitic chieftains. Instead of Sumerians and Ak- 
kadians, we have Amorites and Elamites preparing for 
a final test of arms. 

Chronological lists at our disposal reveal a series of 
eleven rulers with their seat in Babylon and whose 
reigns can now be approximately fixed as extending 
from c. 2225 to 1926 B.C. The first of these rulers is 
Sumuabu, the f omi of whose name is Semitic, but of a 
quite different formation from the Akkadian names. 
The same is the case with the names of other rulers of 
this dynasty like Sumulailu, Sabu, Hammurapi ; in fact 
all but two — Apil-Sin and Sin-muballit *° — are dis- 
tinctly foreign. Those bearing these names, therefore, 
represent part of an immigration into the Euphrates 

80 See his votive inscription to Nergal published by Thureau- 
Dangin (Revue d'Assyriologie, IX, pp. 121-124). 

in Signifying "Son of the god Sin" and "Sin gives life"— 
genuine Akkadian names. 



Valley, and there is more than sufficient evidence to 
show that the new settlers came from the northwest — 
the large and not sharply defined district known as 
Amurru, the land of the Amorites. In fact the rulers 
in question speak of themselves and of their subjects 
as Amorites/ 1 The Semitic character of these Amorites 
is as pronounced as that of the earlier Semitic settlers 
in the Euphrates Valley, if not indeed more so since 
they had not been obliged to submit to an assimilating 
process with Sumerians and other non-Semites. Once 
in the country, however, they adopt the language, cult 
and customs of the Akkadians, and only in their names 
and in retaining the habit of the Semitic Bedouins of 
shaving the upper lip do they reveal externally a trace 
of their foreign origin. We do not know the special cir- 
cumstances under which these Amorites entered Baby- 
lonia. Migrations into the Euphrates Valley on a larger 
or smaller scale were probably going on at all times, 
particularly from the northwest, whence Bedouin tribes 
could easily pass along the course of the Euphrates into 
the south. 

The Akkadians themselves probably did not wel- 
come these constant accessions from the north and 
northwest, and conflicts ensued which must sometimes 
have ended disastrously for the invaders, though they 
generally led to a coalition. That appears to have been 
the case with the Amorites, who, entering the country 
at a time when the Akkadians were forced to submit 
once more to Sumerian supremacy, were probably aided 
by their fellow Semites in the endeavor to re-establish 
the power of the Semites in the northern part of the 
Valley, which from the time of the dynasty of Agade 
becomes definitely known as Akkad, in contrast to 
Sumer as the designation of the south. The Amorites 
established themselves in the city of Babylon, which, 
situated somewhat to the south of Agade, had already 
in the days of the Akkad dynasty begun to acquire 

41 See Meyer, Geschichie des Altertums, I, 2, p. 615, note. 


some importance. These Amorite rulers succeeded in 
uniting the Semitic population of the north under their 
banners. Sumuabu controls the old Semitic centre, 
Kish; his dominion reaches to Dilbat to the south of 
Babylon, but he makes no effort to encroach on Sumer. 
Indeed, he appears to have had some trouble in con- 
trolling all of Akkad, for we learn of an expedition 
against Kasallu to the north of Kish which refused 
to submit to Sumuabu's dominion and which is there- 
fore destroyed by him. The patesi of Ashur — the old 
capital of Assyria — llushuma, also makes an attack 
on Sumuabu, which is significant as foreshadowing the 
rivalry between the two Semitic kingdoms of Meso- 
potamia, that of Babylonia in the south and of Assyria 
in the north. After a rule of eleven years, Sumuabu 
is succeeded by Sumulailu, whose long reign of thirty- 
six years (c. 2211-2176 B.C.) was largely devoted to 
strengthening the newly established kingdom and to 
overcoming rivals who appeared on various sides. It 
was not until near the close of his reign that Sumulailu 
succeeded in overcoming his foes and rivals, and in 
establishing himself as ruler of the entire north. He 
is the real founder of the dynasty of Babylon whose 
name is celebrated as such by his successors. His suc- 
cessors, to be sure, still had difficulties to contend with. 
Rebellions broke out here and there, but were sup- 
pressed aparcntly with increasingly less effort, so that 
the strength of the kingdom was well maintained. 

The time was approaching for the supreme test of 
this strength in passages of arms with the Elamitie 
rulers who, as we have seen, had obtained the mastery 
of Sumer. The kings of Babylon were unable to pre- 
vent the aggressiveness of Kudurmabug and his two 
sons, Aradsin and Rim-Sin, whom he had placed on the 
throne of Larsa. It may be, indeed, that they abetted 
Elam in its endeavors to crush the Sumerians. The 
seventeenth year of Sin-muballit's reign, corresponding 
to about 2126 B.C., is entered in business documents as 



the one in which Isin was captured. This, we know, 
was the work of Rim-Sin and not of Sin-muballit, but 
if the event is recognized in Babylon as a basis for the 
official dating of documents, it is tempting to suppose 
that Sin-muballit was in some measure involved in the 
overthrow of the Isin dynasty. 42 He certainly appears 
to have taken advantage of disturbed conditions in the 
south by making an attack on Ur, which was recorded 
as having been successful/ 3 But if a coalition between 
Sin-muballit and Rim-Sin existed, it must soon have 
become apparent that it could not last. When two 
aggressive kingdoms are brought face to face, it is only 
a question of time before hostilities between the two 
will break out. There was no room for both Amorites 
and Elamites. The one or the other had to yield. 

Within two years after the end of the Isin dynasty, 
Sin-muballit dies and is succeeded (c. 2123 B.C.) by his 
son, Hammurapi, who so amply merits the title of 
" Great" He at once inaugurates an aggressive policy 
which brings city after city into his control. In 2117 he 
succeeds in wresting Uruk and Isin from the Elamites 
and follows up his advantage by moving against the 
Elamitic border state Emutbal in the following year. 
A number of years passed, however, before the great 
conqueror succeeded in capturing Ur and Larsa and 
in bringing the booty to Babylon. Emutbal became 
a province of the Amorite kingdom in 2090 B.C., and in 
another year all Sumer acknowledged Hammurapi 's 
supremacy. During the last nine years of his reign 
he displayed the same energy in promoting works of 
peace, enlarging the canal system, and furnishing Uruk 
and other cities with an abundant water supply. He 

41 Sin-muballit did not go so far as to actually claim that he 
put an end to the Isin dynasty, and it is noticeable that in busi- 
ness documents for the seventeenth year, there is an alternative 
dating of a totally different character. See Schorr, Altbabylonisch* 
Recktsurkunden, p, 588. 

49 See the date for the eighteenth year (Schorr, I.e.). 


restores the temples in Larsa, Eridu, Lagash, Khallab, 
Cuthah, and Adab, which had suffered during the pro- 
longed period of the wars; he is equally concerned for 
the old centres of the north, such as Opis and Kish. 
Naturally his chief concern is for his capital, Babylon, 
and next to this for the neighboring Borsippa and for 
Sippar, which remains in specially close touch with 
Babylon. The chief cities of Assyria, Ashur and 
Nineveh, included in his empire, are also the objects of 
his care. His aim is evidently to establish a permanent 
union between the Semitic and the non-Semitic ele- 
ments of the population of Sumer and Akkad. The 
old Sumerian centres, Eridu, Nippur, Ur, Uruk and 
Larsa, retain their position in the religious organiza- 
tion, though henceforth deprived of political impor- 
tance. Both languages, Sumerian and Akkadian, are 
recognized as official. Documents are not infrequently 
set up in both languages, though in the cult the Su- 
merian continues for some time to occupy the first 
place. Hammurapi crowns his career by a codification 
and formal promulgation of the laws which were to 
serve as the basis of legal decisions and according to 
which justice was to be dealt out. Already at the be- 
ginning of his reign he emphasizes his aim to establish 
justice in his dominions, so that, in a measure, his 
famous code — discovered at Susa in 1901, whither it 
had been carried as a trophy of war by the Elamites in 
the twelfth century * — is one of his earliest works, but 
since it was not promulgated until the close of his 
career, after he had finished his long series of wars and 
had succeeded in uniting all of Babylonia, as we may 
from now on designate the country brought under a 
single ride, it represents, as it were, his last testament 
— the monument of his career, which was of a more 
enduring character than any of his other achievements 
in war or in peace. 45 

** See above, p, 113, note 88. 

46 See an analysis of the code in Chapter VI. 




Hammurapi \s reign thus closes an epoch in the 
history of the country and marks the beginning of a 
new age. The prolonged struggle between Sumerians 
and Akkadians ends in the definite supremacy of the 
latter, reinforced by the Amorites. Babylonia as a 
united empire with Semitic rulers on the throne arises 
out of the issue to become a dominant factor in the 
world's history. The Akkadian language replaces the 
Sumerian as the popular speech and becomes also the 
official inediiun, although for the present it did not 
drive the Sumerian entirely out of use. 

A survey of the history such as we have attempted 
up to the days of Hammurapi makes it perfectly clear 
why the culture of Babylonia and therefore also that 
of Assyria is essentially a mixed product, due to the 
long-continued process of alternating conflict and as- 
similation between the Semitic and non-Semitic ele- 
ments of the population. If the Semites come out of 
this conflict as the conquerors, they nevertheless have 
absorbed much of the Sumerian culture; in fact, the 
ability to combine these foreign elements — the script, 
the religious beliefs, the rites, the military organiza- 
tion and other features — with their own points of view 
and contributions to civilization is to be accounted as 
an important factor in leading to their ultimate 
triumph. From the time of Hammurapi, we may 
drop all distinctions of Sinner and Akkad and speak of 
the Sumero-Akkadian kingdom, or more briefly Baby- 
lonia, since Babylon as the political centre now assumes 
a fundamental importance. 

A centralizing tendency in religion also sets in, as 
we shall have occasion to point out in the following 
chapter, leading to heaping on Marduk, as the god of 
the city of Babylon, the powers and attributes of all 
the chief gods, the patrons of the old centres in the 
south and north. Babylon and Marduk become the 


dominating factors in the historical and religious for- 
tunes of the country; and in view of the wide scope 
!of religion in ancient civilizations, the two factors also 
that condition the further steps in the unfolding of 
the culture of both Babylonia and Assyria. 
It was no easy task for even so great a ruler such as 
Hammurapi was to hold a vast empire together. The 
only hope lay in bringing about an assimilation of the 
population to the extent at least of creating a feeling 
of national pride as the basis for the maintenance of the 
political integrity of the realm. Such a policy, how- 
ever, had its distinct limitations. Sumer and Akkad 
could be brought together in this way. Assyria in the 
north was still too weak to offer serious resistance, but 
these conditions did not apply to districts beyond As- 
syria to the north and northeast — the land of the Guti, 
Lullubi and other groups of whom, in fact, we hear 
nothing during the period of the dynasty of Babylon, 
while Elam to the East, chafing under the humiliat- 
ing yoke, merely waited for a favorable opportunity 
to again reassert herself. 

The opportunity came not many years after the 
death of Hainmurapi, in 2081 B.C. The same Rim-Sin 
who overthrew Ism, and who was himself obliged, after 
a long and desperate struggle, to yield to Hammurapi, 
once more became active despite his advanced years. 46 
After his defeat by Hammurapi, he appears to have 
returned into the mountain regions bordering on Elam 
and there gathered recruits for a fresh attack. We 
hear in the days of Samsuihma, the son and successor 
of Hammurapi, of a new group, the Cassites, who were 
destined to become the controlling element in Baby- 
lonia. The origin of these Cassites is still involved in 

** Assuming that he was a very young man at his conquest of 
lain in 2126 B.C., he must have been almost eighty years old when he 
again makes the attempt to regain his lost prestige. 



considerable doubt. 47 They wore a people of mountain- 
< < is, semi -barbarous, but capable of rapidly absorbing 
the elements of the higher civilization with which they 
came in contact in Elam and subsequently in Babylonia, 
The ninth year of Sanisuiluna, that is 2071 B.C., records 
a conflict with the "Cassite hordes" which stands in 
connection with the events of the following year, in 
which Samsuiluna is at war with Einutbal, Ur, Uruk 
and Isin. In the same year we find Rim-Sin in pos- 
session of Upi (or Opis), the old border city in the 
extreme north of Babylonia, and assuming with the 
consent of the chief goddess of Upi, Ninmakh, the title 
of king "over the whole land.'* Clearly Rim-Sin had 
succeeded in rallying to his side the districts in the 
south over which he formerly ruled as well as Emut- 
bal. The army which he gathered must have been rein- 
forced by the Cassite hosts, aiding him to march across 
the road leading from Ecbatana to Babylon, along 
which lay Upi as an important strategic point. The 
effort of Rim-Sin and his allies, however, failed, and 
Rim-Sin appears to have perished in the flames of his 
own palace. Samsuiluna took his revenge on Ur and 
Uruk by destroying the walls of these two ancient 

For all that, he could not prevent frequent upris- 
ings in various parts of Babylonia, nor the constitution 
of a rival state in the marshy districts of the extreme 
south, spoken of in the inscriptions as the "sea land." 
Here we find Ilumailu establishing himself as king, 
c, 2070 b.c, and giving considerable trouble to Samsui- 
luna (2080-2043 b.c.) and to his son and successor, 
Abeshu (2042-2015 b.c.). The rulers of the "sea land" 
who maintained their independence during the re- 
mainder of the period of the firjst dynasty of Babylon 
were probably not Semites, despite the Semitic forma- 
tion of their names. We may see in them the last faint 
and desperate efforts of Sumerians, driven into the 

41 See Meyer, Geschichte dea Altertums I, 2, p. 652 ? seq. 


waste lands of the south, difficult of access, to assert 
themselves. Though for the greater part obliged to 
limit their jurisdiction to a small strip bordering on 
the Persian Gulf — the portion of Babylonia that sub- 
sequently became known as Chaldsea — the successors of 
Ilumailu, of whom we know no less than ten, made 
incursions from time to time, in the hope of regaining 
at least the old capital Isin — the last stronghold, as 
we have seen, of the opponents of the dynasty of 
Babylon. For a short time, indeed, Damikilishu II — 
adopting the name of the last ruler of the Isin dynasty 
— succeeds in this aim. He occupies the city and re- 
builds the wall, but, about 1988 B.C., we have the record 
that Ammiditana (c. 2014^-1978 B.C.), the son of Abeshu, 
destroyed this wall, which naturally involved the cap- 
ture of the place. The two successors of Ammiditana 
appear to have kept the rival kings in check, but in the 
year 1926 B.C., a strange occurrence brings the dynasty 
of Babylon to a sudden end. This was an invasion of 
the Hittites, with whom a new and entirely unexpected 
factor enters into Babylonian history. These Hittites 
come from the northwest, from the Taurus range and 
beyond. 48 The name Khatti given to them appears 
to be one that acquired a very wide and general signifi- 
cance and included a variety of groups, of whom the 
Mitanni in northwestern Mesopotamia represent a sub- 
division. The centre, however, of Hittite dominion was 
in the interior of Asia Minor, stretching at an early 
time up to the shores of the Caspian Sea. Here we 
find a powerful kingdom established which in the fif- 
teenth century is able to oppose an active resistance 
against the attempts of Egyptian rulers to bring north- 
ern Syria under their control. The entire region from 
northern Syria to Boghaz-Keui, near the Black Sea, 
is covered with mounds containing remains of Hittite 
palaces and forts which, while showing the decided 

"See Garstang, Land of the Hittites (London, 1910), and Ed. 
Meyer, Reich und Kuttur dcr Chetitcr (Berlin, 1914) ; also above, 
p. 116. 



influence of Babylonian and Assyrian models, 49 have yet 
distinctive features which justify us in speaking of 
the Hittites as a unit, though it must always he borne 
in mind that the terai is merely a convenient one for 
massing together a number of groups that combined to 
form powerful kingdoms in central and northern Asia 
Minor, and then, pressing southwards, established a 
number of independent states in northern Syria be- 
tween the Euphrates and the Taurus range and prob- 
ably also in the Zagros range, while offshoots proceeded 
still further south and, entering Palestine proper, be- 
came an element of the very mixed population of that 
region. Hittite groups thus covered an enormous area 
and it is not surprising, therefore, to find a contingent, 
attracted by the culture of Babylonia, passing into this 
region in the hope of establishing themselves there. 
The Hittites swooped down upon Babylonia and, tak- 
ing advantage of weakened conditions through the con- 
stant attacks from the rival kingdom in the "sea land," 
which had to be repulsed, actually succeeded in over- 
throwing Samsuditana in the year 1926 B.C. The attack 
was probably undertaken as a plundering raid, to which 
an open country like the Euphrates Valley was fre- 
quently subject, but for the time being with the result 
of actually placing a Hittite chieftain on the throne of 
Babylon. How long the Hittites remained in control 
we do not know, as in general our knowledge of the 
closing years of the dynasty of Babylon is still very 
defective, while with the downfall of this dynasty a 
gap of a most serious character ensues which stretches 
over the succeeding centuries. 


Until a short time ago it seemed possible to join a 
short Hittite occupancy of Babylonia directly on to the 
conquest of the land by the Cassites, whose first en- 

" See Plate LIV, Fig. 1, for specimen of Hittite art, showing 
Assyrian influence. 



counters with the kings of Babylon, it will be recalled, 
took place in the reign of Samsuiluna. This is, now 
that a more definite basis for dating the reigns of the 
mlers of the Babylon dynasty has been secured, 50 not 
easily possible, indeed one may say out of the question. 
As a makeshift it is assumed that the rulers of the "sea 
land" availed themselves of the disturbed condition of 
affairs through the invasion of the Hittites and suc- 
ceeded not only in gaining control of Isin and the land 
of Sumer in general, but also of Akkad, and ruled as 
kings of Sumer and Akkad for a period of about 150 
years. There are some indications pointing in this 
direction. Until, however, further documents for this 
period shall be forthcoming, we cannot trace the course 
of events which led (c. 1760 B.C.) to the conquest of the 
entire country by the Cassites. All that may safely be 
inferred is that the interval (c. 1926-1760 B.C.) between 
the invasion of the Hittites and the establishment of a 
dynasty of Cassite rulers who maintained themselves 
on the throne for more than half a millennium must 
have been marked by unrest, by frequent shif tings of 
the political kaleidoscope and by internal disturbances 
during which there was in many respects a reversion to 
earlier conditions when Sinner and Akkad were hope- 
lessly divided up into a considerable number of in- 
dependent little states. 


The Cassites did not remain idle during this inter- 
val. While originally perhaps serving merely as mer- 
cenaries in the army of Rim-Sin, they must soon after 
his death have obtained a position of mastery in the 
border state of Emutbal. From this point of vantage 
they would be apt to make incursions into the 
Euphrates Valley and if we were better informed re- 
garding this period, we would probably find them hold- 

50 By Kugler, Sternkunde und Sterndieiist in Babel, II, 2, Heft I, 
p. 257, seq., on the basis of notices in astrological texts. 


ing portions of the laud in their control. Elam proper 
must also have been affected by the proximity of these 
warlike hordes. It does not appear to have ever actu- 
ally fallen into the hands of the Cassites, though in 
default of documents we cannot be certain of this. 

The Babylonian Chroniclers name Gandash as the 
first Cassite ruler who lays claim to titles emphasizing 
control of Babylonia. In fact he calls himself in an 
inscription that has been preserved in a late copy, 51 
"King of the Four Regions, King of Sunier and Akl 
King of Babylon/ 1 from which we are permitted to 
conclude that he asserted his complete succession to 
the dynasty of Babylon, but it does not of course fol- 
low that he was the first Cassite who succeeded in gain- 
ing the supremacy over any portion of the Euphrates 
Valley. Predecessors of Gandash for many genera- 
tions back may have had parts of Sumer or Akkad in 
their possession, dividing the authority with the rulers 
of the * 4 sea land." All therefore that is to be con- 
cluded from the official recognition of Gandash as the 
first ruler of the Cassite dynasty is that with him the 
interference of the Cassites in the political fortunes of 
the Euphrates Valley assumes a new and more definite 
phase. For about forty years the rulers of the 4 *sea 
land," no doubt driven back to their limited marshy dis- 
trict in the south, were able to maintain themselves 
until about 1720 B.C., when their rule was practically 
brought to an end by Ulamburiash, the Cassite who 
calls himself the brother of Kashfiliash I. 

A strange issue indeed of the long continued con- 
flicts between Sumerians and Akkadians that after such 
various vicissitudes in which Semitic influences steadily 
gained the mastery, the prize should have been snatched 
out of the hands of the two rivals by a foreign power, 
and one that represented a far lower levd of culture. 
The Cassites indeed brought little with them that could 

* l Winckler, Untersuchungen zur Altorientalischen Gcschkhte, 
pp. 34 and 156. 


egarded as an addition to the civilization which they 
lated unless it be the horse, which appears to 
have been introduced by them, 52 as better adapted than 
the ass for purposes of war — particularly for drawing 
chariots across mountain regions. Indeed many cen- 
turies lapsed before it became customary to use the 
horse also as a riding animal as we find it on the monu- 
ments of Assyrian kings. The Cassites appear to 
have adopted the civilization of Babylonia in a sur- 
prisingly short time ; they retain the names of the chief 
deities worshipped by them 53 but assimilated them to 
figures of the Babylonian pantheon, to whom they bore 
a resemblance. 84 

A civilization having reached a certain point does 
not stand still ; it either moves forward or a period of 
decline, albeit temporary, sets in. The latter appears 
to have been the result of the coming of the Cassite 
hordes. The works of art of this period are few in 
number, which may of course be due to accidental pres- 
ervation, but what we have is of a decidedly lower 
order. The best specimens are the so-called boundary 
stones, large steles of hard or soft stone or of a com- 
posite material, recording gifts of lands or special deeds 
illustrated with symbols and representations of the 
gods and occasionally of rulers in whose reigns these 

" The code of Hammurapi does not mention the horse, but we 
find it referred to in a business document of this period. (See 
Ungnad, Oriental. Litteraturzeitung, X, Sp. 638, seq.) \ it does not 
become common, however, until the time of Cassite control. The 
horse (sisu) is written ideograph ically "ass of the mountain," an 
indication of the district whence it was brought to Babylonia. See 
Meyer, Qeschirkte des AUeriums, I, 2, p, 651, seq. 

"See Jastrow, Religion Babyltmicns und Assyrkns, I, p. 180 
and the references there given. 

" Shipak is identified with Marduk, Khala with the goddess 
Gula, Shukamuna, who appears to have been the head of the 
Cassite pantheon, with Nergal, Shuriash with Shamash, and Marut- 
tash with Ninib. 



monuments were set up, 55 No literary products date, 
so far as can be ascertained, from the five centuries of 
Cassite supremacy. The old was preserved and we do 
not even find evidence of any adaptation of ancient 
hymns or rituals or myths to the changed conditio 
such as happened when Babylon, with Marduk as the 
chief deity, took the place of Nippur and Enlil, 56 or as 
happened centuries later when the Babylonian literature 
was carried over to Assyria and adapted to conditions 
prevailing in the north. It may he that certain divina- 
tion practises were brought to Babylonia by the 
Cassites, 07 but this can certainly not be regarded as a 
contribution to culture, as little as can changes in mili- 
tary organization and warfare which they may have 
introduced. The ancient laws were retained by the 
Cassite rulers, as the business documents, which from 
the days of Burnaburiash (c. 1370 B.C.) become quite 
numerous, 88 show. The one important innovation in 
these documents is the introduction of dating according 
to the years of the ruling monarch, instead of accord- 
ing to significant events. 

While continuing to recognize Babylon as the official 
residence, the Cassite rulers seemed bent on restoring 
to Nippur the prestige which this centre lost in a meas- 
ure through the transfer of the headship of the pan- 
theon to Marduk as the chief deity of Babylon. We 
find the Cassites displaying great zeal in restoring and 

"See the illustration and also in Chapter VII. Plates LXXIII 
and LXXIV. 

•• See p. 212, seq. 

5T Probably the divination through the play of oil bubbles in 
water, for which see p. 266 and the' reference there given. 

68 E.g., in Nippur. See Clay, Documents from the Temple 
Archives Dated in the Reigns of Cassite Rulers (Philadelphia, 1906, 
2 vols.), and the same author's Personal Names from Cuneiform 
Inscriptions of the Cassite Period (New Haven, 1912) ; in Babylon, 
also, business documents of the time of Burnaburiash II onwards 
have been found. 


improving the sanctuary of Enlil at Nippur, which, 
however, did not hinder them from paying their homage 
to the chief patron deities of other centres, to Sin or 
Nannar at Ui\ to Shamash at Larsa, to Nana in Uruk 
and naturally also to Marduk in Babylon. 


We must now leave Babylonia for a while and turn 
our attention to the north, for before the Cassite do- 
minion comes to an end (c. 1200 e.g.), we find the rulers 
of Assyria not only in a position of complete independ- 
ence of the south, but inaugurating the aggressive 
policy which in duo course, with many turns and twists, 
to be sure, made them the masters of a large portion 
of the ancient world — world-conquerors in the full 
sense of the term. 

Despite the large advance signalled in our knowl- 
edge of the earliest period of Assyrian history as a con- 
sequence of the thorough excavations that have been 
conducted during the past fourteen years by the Ger- 
man expedition at Kaleh-Shergat, 50 the site of the 
ancient capital of Assyria, we are still in the dark as 
to the origin of the northern state or the manner of its 
settlement. The region offers a ready access to the 
northern hordes always pressing southwards from their 
mountain recesses, and since the names of some of the 
earliest personages in connection with the history, of 
Assyria show affiliations with Mitanni names, as, for 
example, Ushpia, the first builder of the temple at 
Ashur, and Kikia who built the city wall, we are per- 
mitted to conclude that Hittite groups formed a con- 
tingent in the earliest settlements of Assyria to which 
the material f ound leads us. Waves of Amoritic migra- 
tions or invasions must also have reached Assyria at 
an early date, and the circumstance that one of the 
oldest temples in Ashur is dedicated to the god Adad, 
oi Amoritic origin, in conjunction with Ami, the patron 

■•Above, p. 55, seq. 



god of Uruk who becomes the god of heaven in gen- 
eral, is significant. 6 '' The natural extension northwards 
of the Euphratean civilization would further tend to 
bring a steady string of settlers from the south. 

The extension of the script and language of Baby- 
lonia to Assyria forms naturally the most significant 
symptom of the spread of the culture produced in the 
south, for with the script and language went the re- 
ligious beliefs and practises (adapted so far as neces- 
sary to modified conditions), as well as the laws as an 
inherent element of the religion, deriving their author- 
it) direct from the gods. The form in which the culture 
is passed on is that assumed through the gradual pre- 
dominance of the Semitic or Akkadian element of the 
population. The earliest inscriptions recovered, which 
take us back to considerably beyond 2000 B.C., are 
couched in Akkadian, which is perhaps also to be taken 
as an indication that the movement to the north was 
largely from Akkad, the centre of the Semitic settle- 
ments, rather than from Sumer. 

As already pointed out, the new documents found 
in considerable numbers through the excavations of 
Kaleh-Shergat enable us to carry back the history of 
Assyria to several centuries beyond the threshold of the 
third millennium before this era, but the facts gleaned 
from these documents, usually brief votive inscriptions, 
are meagre. We learn the names of early rulers, call- 
ing themselves at first patesis* 1 who record their ac- 
tivity in building walls or enlarging temples in the 
city of Ashur dedicated to various gods, as Ashur, Ish- 
tar, Enlil, Anu and Adad and the goddess of the lower 
world, EreshkigaL It is not until we reach the days of 
Samsi-Adad, son of Ishme-Dagan, whose date may be 
provisionally fixed at e. 1850 B.c, that we obtain a 

M The temple is always spoken of as the "house of Anu and 

fll See Messerschmidt, Keilschrifttcxte Aus Assur (Leipzig, 1911) . 


more definite picture of the internal state of affairs. 
This ruler already bestows on himself the title "king 
of universal reign," which the later kings of Assyria 
so proudly wield and with far more justification. How- 
ever, Samsi-Adad would assuredly not have used the 
title without some claim, albeit exaggerated, as a result 
of conquests made by him. We find him, as a matter 
of fact, extending his realm far beyond the natural 
confines of Assyria. He speaks of subjecting to his 
control "the land between the Tigris and Euphrates/ ' 
by which presumably he means Mesopotamia proper 
to the west of Assyria and which would include the 
Hittite settlements of Khani in that region. This is 
confirmed by a tablet found in Tirka, the capital of 
Khani, speaking of Samsi-Adad *s activity in building 
a temple to Dagan in that centre. He passes still fur- 
ther to the north into the mountain districts of the 
Lebanon and erects monuments on "the coast of the 
great sea," by which he means the Mediterranean. 63 
To conquer such an extensive territory was no small 
achievement, and it points to a remarkable advance in 
power that the rulers of the city of Ashur should be 
prepared to take up the policy of the old Sumerian 
kings like Lugalzaggisi and Urukagina, and of Akkad- 
ian conquerors like Sargon, Naram-Sin and Ham- 
murapi, to stretch their dominions to the " great sea." 
Samsi-Adad would not have been able to carry out 
such a plan but for the weakened condition of the south 
at the time, where, as we have seen, after the invasion 
of the Hittites a period of decided decline had set in. 

This relationship between conditions in the south 
and those in the north becomes characteristic for the 

•* Hardly the Black Sea as Meyer, Geschickte des Altertums, 
1, 2, p. 593. I do not hesitate to identify Lab 'an with Lebanon, 
and since Samsi-Adad immediately thereafter (col. IV, 13-18) 
speaks of the "coast of the great sea," he cannot have in mind 
anything else than the Mediterranean — and in all probability at the 
point where the Dog River enters the Mediterranean. 



future ; and we will have occasion to see how constantly 
weakness in Babylonia is taken advantage of by As- 
syria for an aggressive policy and, vice versa, periods 
of decline of power in the north are marked by a re- 
newal of strength in the south. With the triumph of 
the Cassites in Babylonia, a strong central power was 
once more established and, correspondingly, we find 
Assyrian rulers unable to follow up the policy of ex- 
tension inaugurated by Sanisi-Adad. 


A problem in connection with this early history 
Assyria that still awaits solution is to account for the 
presence of an extensive settlement in far distant Cap- 
padocia, making use of the cuneiform script and Ak- 
kadian language (with certain modifications) for re- 
cording business transactions on clay tablets precisely 
like those to which we are accustomed in Babylonia and 
Assyria, even to the attachment of the seals of the 
parties concerned. 03 Through these seals furnishing 
names of rulers of the Ur dynasty and of early patesis 
of Ashur, we are enabled to say definitely that these 
Cappadoeian documents, found at various places of the 
extensive district, revert to a period as high as about 
2400 B.C., and come down to about 1900, though a defi- 
nite limit at the other end has not yet been determined. 
The proper names in these documents are unmistakably 
Assyrian, as is shown by the frequent introduction of 
the element Ashur — generally written Ashir as in the 
oldest Assyrian inscriptions — in names of individuals. 
A further proof of the presence of Assyrians in this 
district at an early period is the designation Assyria 
given by early Greek geographers to the land on both 
sides of the river Halys, covering precisely the region 

" See the references grouped together by Meyer, Oeschickte des 
Altertums, I, 2, p. 613, seq. f and the note on page viii of the Intro- 


in which Cappadocian tablets have been found. Even 
in later times, the inhabitants of Cappadocia are spoken 
of as Syrians (an abbreviation of Assyrians), and by 
way of contrast to the Syrians south of the Taurus 
range are specified as " White Syrians." 64 How are 
we to account for this Assyrian colony in a district so 
remote from both Babylonia and Assyria at this early 
date ? A plausible hypothesis which may be provision- 
ally accepted is to assume that Assyrian garrisons were 
placed here to maintain some measure of control over 
the land and that around these garrisons, owing alle- 
giance to rulers of Sumer and Akkad, settlements of 
Assyrians and perhaps also of Babylonians grew and 
maintained commercial and other relationships with 
their native land. fla 

In view of this extension of Assyrian influence in 
Asia Minor at so unexpectedly early a period, even 
though these Semitic settlements represent merely the 
outgrowth of military outposts, the aggressive policy 
of Samsi-Adad centuries later appears in a more 
natural light. What he did, others may have attempted 
before him, and indeed it is possible that he endeavored 
to secure for Assyria a control of lands to the north- 
west that had been wrested from her while her rulers 
were still merely patesis, owing allegiance to rulers of 
the south. At all events, the advance of the Hittites, 
marked by their success in overthrowing the dynasty 
of Babylon, must have put at least a temporary end to 
Assyrian control in Asia Minor, and we may perhaps 
bring the end of the settlements in Cappadocia in con- 
nection with this rise of the Hittites to a position of 
extraordinary power. 

64 See the references given by Noldeke in Hermes, vol. v, pp. 

"A parallel in much later days would be the growth of an 
extensive Jewish colony in Upper Egypt out of a military frontier 
garrison at Elephantine. See Ed. Meyer, Papyrusfund von Ele- 
phantine (Leipzig, 1912). 



But for the presence at this time of the strong Cas- 
site rulers in Babylonia, one might have witnessed 
another Hittite invasion of the Euphrates Valley in 
the sixteenth century. If we place Samsi-Adad shortly 
before the definite control of Babylonia through the 
Cassites, we obtain a date for the decline of the Hittite 
power in Babylonia, c. 1750 B.C., which answers the 
required conditions — the weakened state of the south 
through constant uprisings of various centres, and at- 
tempts of rulers of the "sea land" to maintain or ex- 
tend their power, and the advantage reaped by Assyria 
from this state of affairs to assert her independence 
and to push on to a renewed control of the regions lying 
to the north and northwest. 

In default of historical documents of Assyrian 
rulers for the succeeding centuries we are left in doubt 
as to the further course of this extension of Assyrian 
power, but the existence, in the sixteenth century, of 
the strong, independent state of Mitanni in northwest- 
em Mesopotamia, extending to the Taurus range, and 
the simultaneous establishment of a still more powerful 
Hittite kingdom with a centre near the Black Sea, 
furnish a date for the reaction which must have forced 
Assyria back within her proper bounds. The large 
admixture of Aryan elements at this time to the Hittite 
population, employed perhaps at first as mercenaries 
and then rising as successful soldiers to leading posi- 
tions, is to be regarded as an important factor in bring- 
ing new vigor to the various Hittite groups throughout 
Asia Minor. 

The supremacy of the Cassites in the south, reach- 
ing the height of their power in the seventeenth to the 
fifteenth centuries, would act as a further deterrent in 
restricting the activity of Assyrian rulers to keeping a 
watch on the formidable neighbor, whose natural am- 
bition would be to re-establish the dependency of 
Assyria upon Babylonia which had prevailed for so 
many centuries. A definite point of contact between 


the Cassites and the Assyrians is found in a statement 
of a chronicler, 66 that the Cassite ruler Karaindash, 
whose reign may be approximately fixed in the second 
half of the fifteenth century, made a treaty with Ashur- 
rimnisheshu, the King of Assyria, agreeing by a solemn 
oath to respect the boundary as fixed between them. That 
Assyria is strong enough to compel Babylonia to make 
an agreement regarding the boundary between the two 
lands is extremely significant, pointing as it does to 
the failure of attempts on the part of the Cassites to 
secure a control of the north. The northern kingdom 
was thus steadily growing in strength, and it is emi- 
nently likely that after 1500 B.C. the south had given up 
all hope of reducing the north to the former position 
of subserviency. Assyria, in fact, was beginning to 
assume the role of aggressor, though some time natu- 
rally elapsed before she was ready to assume a direct 
interference in the affairs of the south. This was 
brought about through the marriage of an Assyrian 
princess, Muballitat-Sheru'a, the daughter of Ashur- 
uballit (c. 1380-1350 B.C.), with Karakhardash, the 
Cassite ruler of Babylonia. The offspring of this mar- 
riage, Karaindash, was murdered in a rebellion that 
broke out and Ashur-uballit proceeds to Babylonia to 
wreak vengeance for the death of his grandson. He 
succeeds in this to the extent of dispatching Nazibug- 
ash, an usurper and the ringleader of the uprising. In 
place of the latter, Kurigalzu II, another son of Burna- 
buriash, is placed on the throne and he rules for twenty- 
three years (e. 1355-1332 B.C.). 


We have thus reached an entirely new state of 
affairs. The tables are turned about. The more vigor- 
ous Assyria feels called upon to suppress internal dis- 
turbances in Babylonia and to secure the legitimate 
succession to the throne. There are other indications 

f€ KeilinschrifUiche BMiothek (ed. Schrader), I, p. 194. 



of this momentous change in the relationships between 
the south and north. From this period, the middle of 
the fourteenth century B.C., date the important official 
archives found some twenty years ago in Tell el- 
Amarna in Egypt, 61 containing a portion of the cor- 
respondence of governors and other officials of dis- 
tricts and cities in Palestine and Syria with the kings 
of Egypt, Amenophis III and Amenophis IV, in whose 
service they stood. This correspondence is carried on 
in Akkadian, which, as a result of the spread of Baby- 
lonian culture, had become current beyond the borders 
of Babylonia. Included in the correspondence are also 
letters from Babylonian and Assyrian rulers which 
throw a further light on the change in the relationship 
between the two countries. The Cassite king Burna- 
buriash reproaches Amenophis IV for having recog- 
nized Ashur-uballit as an independent monarch, as long 
as Babylonia still laid claim to a supremacy over As- 
syria. This complaint is a proof of the weakness to 
which the south had been reduced. A foreign power is 
appealed to, to make good a claim that had long since 
ceased to have any warrant and that had become merely 
a tradition handed clown from an age that had passed 
away. The Cassite ruler is not content with sending 
costly gifts to Amenophis III; he adds his daughter 
and his sister to be incorporated into the harem of the 
Egyptian ruler, and it is indicative of the situation that 
Amenophis refuses the request of the Babylonian king 
for an Egyptian princess in return. 

Enlil-nirari, the successor of Ashur-uballit, engages 
in battle with Kurigalzu II, despite the fact that the 
latter owed his throne to Assyrian interference. As- 
syria is victorious and apparently dictates terms in 
bringing about a rearrangement of the boundary line. 
From now on till towards the end of the Cassite dy- 
nasty, Assyria had a free hand in extending her power 
to the north, northeast and northwest, with occasional 

CT See the Introduction to Knudtzon 's standard work, Die 
El-Amarmtafcln (Leipzig, 1908) for further details. 


incursions even into Babylonia, -which the latter, how- 
ever, was able to resist, until, about 1290 B.C., she suc- 
cumbed for a while to the authority of her northern foe. 
All four rulers following upon Enlil-nirari stand 
out prominently as aggressive warriors. Erik-den-ilu, 
who leads his armies into the mountainous regions to 
the northeast as well as to the northwest, subdues the 
Guti in the Zagros range and the Hittite groups on the 
western side of Assyria and drives back the Bedouins, 
grouped under Akhlami and Suti, into the desert lands 
to the southwest. His son, Adadnirari I, continues the 
work of his father and claims control of a large region 
to the east as well as to the northwest of Assyria. Pie 
appears definitely to have put an end to the Mitanni 
kingdom— ^an important achievement as a road, leading 
again to a further extension of Assyria into and beyond 
the Taurus range. Under the two successors, Shal- 
maneser I (c. 1300 B.C.) and Tukulti-Ninib (c. 1290 
B.C.), the aggressive policy reaches the height of its 
success. Chronicles record attacks on Babylonia by 
Adadnirari I, by Shalmaneser I and by Tukulti-Ninib I, 
corresponding to the reigns of Cassite kings from Nazi- 
maruttash (c. 1332-1307 B.C.) to Kashtiliash II (c. 
1261-1254 B.C.). Each attack meant not only a weak- 
ening of the vitality of the Cassite rule in Babylonia, 
but concessions to Assyria in the settlement of the 
boundary line between the northern and southern king- 
doms. Finally after several campaigns, Tukulti-ninib I 
actually besieges Babylon and captures the reigning 
king, Kashtiliash II. This happened about the middle 
of the thirteenth century. es Babylonia passes entirely) 
into control of Assyria, as is indicated by the titled 
"King of Karduniash" (i.e., Babylonia M ) and "King 

* 8 We have a definite indication for the date of Tukulti-Ninib in 
a statement in one of Sennacherib's inscriptions. See King, 
Records of Tukulti-Ninib t I, p. 60, seq. 

* B For Kar-duniash ("Fortress of the god Durtiash" as the 
Cassite name of Babylonia, see Meyer, Oeschichte I, 2, p. 659, seq,, 
and the references there given. 



of Sumer and Akkad" which Tukulti-Ninib I adds to 
his other claims. 

With Tukulti-Ninib we reach the climax in this 
period of Assyrian aggressiveness. Had the strength 
which the north unfolded at this time been maintained, 
Babylonia would in a short time have become merely a 
province of Assyria. Tukulti-Ninib, however, is killed 
in an uprising instituted by his own son, and the de- 
cline of Assyria now sets in with such rapidity that 
she not only loses her prestige but is attacked on the 
north by the various mountain groups, while Babylonia 
regains her independence and forces her favorites on 
the throne of Assyria. For a short time indeed, extend- 
ing from the reign of Ashur-reshishi to that of Tig- 
lathpileser I, covering the second half of the twelfth 
century B.C., Assyria recovers her position. The former 
succeeds in driving back the Lulumi and the Guti and 
other groups into their mountain recesses, holds the 
Bedouin hordes in check and successfully combats an 
attack from Babylonia, the purpose of which was to 
reduce the district recognized by previous treaties as 
constituting the extent of Assyria. His son, Tiglath- 
pileser I (e. 1125-1100 B.C.), maintains the prestige re- 
covered by his father and increases it by a series of 
campaigns to the northeast and northwest He pene- 
trates to the sources of the Euphrates, far up in the 
Nairi district, and erects a monument to himself there 
as the symbol of the extent of the dominion once more 
claimed by him. He forces the troublesome Hittite 
groups in the northwest to submission, and coming into 
the Taurus range makes himself master of an extensive 
district that stretches far into central Asia Minor. 
Egypt once more acknowledges the independence of 
Assyria ; her kings send gifts to Ashur as in the days of 
Amenophis III and IV. Moreover, Tiglathpileser I 
surpasses the achievements of his predecessors on the 
throne of Assyria, and in imitation of the ambition of 
Babylonian rulers at various epochs plants his stand- 


ards on the shores of the Mediterranean. At the mouth 
of the Dog River he erects a statue of himself, with an 
inscription recording his achievements. Tiglathpil- 
eser I crowns his achievements by two campaigns 
against Babylonia, in the first of which he extends the 
boundary line of Assyria, while in the second he reaches 
and captures the chief cities in northern Babylonia, in- 
cluding the capital city, Babylon. Once more, there- 
fore, as in the days of Tukulti-Ninib, the supremacy 
of the north had to be acknowledged by the south, but 
the second epoch of glory was of even shorter duration 
than the first, and with Tiglathpileser's death his ex- 
tensive kingdom once more crumbles to pieces. For 
two centuries Assyria, restricted in her activity to 
maintaining herself within her own very definite and 
limited boundaries, plays little or no part in the larger 
affairs of the ancient world, 

It is not difficult to account for the rapid decay 
after the exhibition of such great force. The burden 
of military campaigns for a term of years, involving 
the annual loss of thousands of men, was too large to 
be borne, nor was the booty, though large, or the tribute 
imposed an adequate compensation for tBe cost and 
effort. In a summary of five years of his reign, Tig- 
lathpileser speaks of having conquered no less than 
forty-two countries, covering a territory that stretched 
west to the Mediterranean, north to the Black Sea and 
northeast to the lake of Van and beyond. In the case 
of a single engagement, 70 the king is opposed by a force 
of 20,000 men, of whom only six thousand escape. From 
such a statement we can infer what enormous hosts 
must have been gathered together by him to carry on 
wars successfully into difficult, aktK>9t inaccessible, 

Externally, indeed, everything seemed rosy for As- 

ria when Tiglathpileser I passed away. The old 
capital of Ashur had risen to new glory in the enlarge- 

Vo RawliBson, I, PL 9, Col I, ?4. 



ment of her temples and palaces, in the strengthening 
of her fortifications and in the tribute that poured in 
from all sides. He laid out beautiful parks about this 
palace, bringing trees for this purpose from distant 
lands. The king appears also to have been the one who 
introduced wild hunting sports as a royal pastime. He 
hunts elephants on the banks of the Chabur; he boasts 
of having killed almost one thousand lions and all man- 
ner of big and little game besides. In ships he sails 
along the Mediterranean and catches a sea monster 
which may have been a whale. 71 Everything that the 
king thus does is on a huge scale and, making due allow- 
ance for the exaggerations of his chroniclers, zealous in 
flattering their royal master, enough remains to show 
that, in peace as in war, Tiglathpileser I played the 
part of the grand monarque — with little concern, how- 
ever, whether his successors would be able to keep up 
the grandeur and the glory. 


Returning now to Babylonia, we have still to trace 
her history after the first serious conflicts with Assyria 
down to the close of the Cassite period. We have seen 
that the coming of the Cassites marks the beginning 
of a period of stagnation in the general culture, which 
after some tune shows itself also in a political decline. 
Unfortunately, owing to a gap in our knowledge of the 
events during the two centuries that followed upon 
Agum II, 72 we are not in a position to indicate exactly 
when the decline set in and we are left to conjecture as to 
the specific causes which brought it about. Difficulties in 
keeping the native population in check, particularly in 
the south, may be set down as an important factor, 
for both Sumerians and Akkadians must have chafed 

n So Haupt's view. See Amer. Jaurnal of Semitic Languages, 
vol. xxiii, pp. 253-263. The Assyrian term is nakhiru. 
Tt Above, p. 152, 


under the humiliation of being governed by foreign 
invaders. The jealousy of Elam, seeking every oppor- 
tunity of fomenting internal dissensions in the 
Euphrates Valley in the hope of profiting by the 
division, is a second factor, but one more fundamental 
was the general lowering of the niveau of culture 
through the mere presence of rulers who represented a 
cruder element— one that had to be assimilated to a 
higher civilization. In the course of such a process 
the more refined element suffers a temporary eclipse. 

It is significant as a general symptom of the weak- 
ness of the Cassite dynasty, especially from the six- 
teenth century on, that Babylonia was unable to oppose 
the Egyptian control over Palestine and the Phoenician 
coast The Hittites alone in northeastern Syria and in 
central Asia Minor offered resistance to the advance of 
Egyptian arms, while Babylonian kings seemed happy 
to be able to maintain friendly relations through inter- 
change of gifts with the rulers on the Nile who were, as 
a matter of fact, their natural rivals and who had 
wrested from their control the important strip along 
the Mediterranean and extending inland to high table 
lands and to the desert region respectively. Babylonia 
thus seemed condemned to a policy of concentration to 
preserve her independence, without thought of extra- 
territorial extension. She is not even well prepared 
for this more humble role, for the result of the numer- 
ous conflicts with Assyria, which began, as we saw, 73 
in the reign of Karaindash (c. 1430 B.C.), is a steady 
growth of Assyrian territory by changes in the bound- 
ary lines between the north and the south, until, about 
two centuries later, Babylonia is forced to accept as 
her rulers the candidates selected by Assyrian kings. 
The south profits by the decline in the power of Assyria 
which sets in after the murder of Tiikulti-Ninib I, and 
through some of her rulers is able to avenge herself 
for the humiliation which she suffered at the hands of 

T » Above, p. 163. 



Assyria. In several successful counter attacks on 
Assyria, Babylonia regained some of the territory that 
she had been obliged to yield to Assyria. At the same 
time, as a result of Assyrian interference in Babylonian 
affairs, the influence of the Semitic element of the 
population reasserted itself; and it is reasonable to 
conclude that the rivalry between Cassites and the 
native population, not completely assimilated despite 
the lapse of so many centuries of coexistence side by 
side, finally led to a vigorous attempt on the part of the 
Semites to regain complete possession of their country. 
A momentous change, however, was impending in the 
south, for within four years after the death of Marduk- 
paliddin (c. 1199-1187 B.C.) the native chroniclers 
record the rise of a new dynasty in the land. 

Our knowledge of Babylonian history for the suc- 
ceeding two and one-half centuries is still quite frag- 
mentary. Of only a few rulers who flourished during 
this period do we possess documents of a historical 
character; for the rest we are dependent upon inci- 
dental references in the annals or votive inscriptions of 
Assyrian kings and on short notices in official chron- 
icles. With Enlil-nadin-akhi, the second member of 
the new dynasty, the chroniclers close the Cassite con- 
trol and again record eleven kings of the Isin dynasty 
covering a period of 130 years. It is no longer a ques- 
tion of a Sumerian Uprising, for that epoch is long 
since past. The assimilation of Sumerians and Ak- 
kadians is an accomplished fact. To account for 
another Isin dynasty, we must assume that, during the 
closing years of the Cassite rule, native governors in 
some of the old centres once more made themselves 
independent, and that a combination of such petty 
states headed by Isin dealt the final blow which ended 
the foreign rule in the Euphrates Valley. The gov- 
ernors of Isin were acknowledged as the heads of the 
kingdom, and hence officially recognized as the basis 
for dating legal documents. We have boundary stones 


ated in the reigns of several of these rulers from which 
we glean some facts connected with their reigns. So, 
for instance, Nebuchadnezzar I (c. 1140-1110 B.C.)* ap- 
parently an usurper, gains some successes in expedi- 
tions against Elam. He also claims to have conquered 
the Lulubi, whose seat is to be sought in the Zagros 
range, and he even led his armies to the northwest, 
though his achievements here could not have been of 
any great moment Nebuchadnezzar I takes the aggivs 
sive and attempts to win back Assyria, but is completely 
routed by Ashurrishishi. Under Ashurrishishi's son, 
the active and energetic Tiglathpileser I (c. 1125-1100 
B.C.), Assyria recovered her former prestige and again 
becomes the attacker of the south, threatening the very 
life and independence of Babylonia. The successors of 
Tiglathpileser were unable to maintain the position 
won, and accordingly we find, instead of a subjection 
of Babylonia to Assyria or a renewal of hostilities be- 
tween the two kingdoms, an era of mutual good will 
setting in. How long this period of stability lasted is 
again involved in doubt, owing to a lack of historical 
documents. Internal disturbances lead to the over- 
throw of the Isin dynasty (c. 1043 B.C.) and in its place 
we once more find rulers of the "sea land" asserting 
themselves and acknowledged as sovereigns over Baby- 
lonia for about twenty years. About 1020 B.C. we find 
another dynasty, likewise consisting of three rulers, 
ruling for about twenty years, and whose designation 
Bit-Bazi is as yet a puzzle. The entire period of forty 
years covered by these two dynasties must have been 
marked by rivalry among the old centres of Babylonia. 
The old enemy to the east, Elam, taking advantage of 
the situation, overruns the Euphrates Valley in the 
twelfth and again in the eleventh century, and for six 
years the official chronicle records that an Elamitic sov- 
ereign (e. 1000 B.C.) occupied the throne. We know 
from other sources the extent to which Babylonia suf- 
fered from these incursions of Elamites, who, among 



other marks of devastation, carried a large number of 
the finest monuments of the country with them as 
trophies to their capital, Susa, where they were founc 
in the course of excavations in our own days. 74 

The return of a native dynasty did not carry with 
it a renewal of sufficient strength to inaugurate another 
aggressive period during the succeeding centuries. 
Gradually but steadily Babylonia sinks to the position 
of more or less complete dependency upon Assyria. The 
degree of this dependency varies somewhat, according 
to the extent to which the reigning Assyrian king pur- 
sues a policy of vigorous opposition to endeavors on the 
part of the south to reassert itself, or seeks to conciliate 
Babylonia by allowing her as large liberties as are con- 
sistent with a protection of the interests of Assyria. 

About the middle of the eighth century, Assyrian 
kings become de facto also the governors of Babylonia. 
The history of Babylonia thus becomes merged with 
that of Assyria, whose fortunes we must now briefly 
B un mi arize from the time of the decline which set in 
again after the death of Tiglathpileser I, about 1100 b.c. 


It is not until the beginning of the ninth century 
that indications of a renaissance of Assyrian power 
become marked. With the advent of Tukulti-Ninib II 
(c. 889-884 B.C.) a new era begins, marked by a steady 
growth till the climax of Assyrian glory is reached, some 
two centuries later. 

We find Tukulti-Ninib undertaking, after a long 
interval, one of those campaigns against the moun- 
taineers to the northeast which brings him up to Lake 
Urmiyeh in the northeast, and Commagene in the north- 
west. His son, Ashurnasirpal III (885-860 B.C.), far 
outdistances the father in achievements. He inaugu- 
rates his reign by a campaign against the lands to the 

T * See de Morgan, MSmoires de la Delegattan en Perse, I, pp. 165- 
182. See above, p. 113, note 88; 136, note 29, and p. 147. 


northeast and northwest of a far mors systematic char- 
icter than the campaigns of his father, with the result 

mt in a few years the entire territory comes within 

lis control. A large hooty is secured, heavy tribute 

levied, and we find the king transcending all predeces- 

>rs in the ruthless manner in which he burned and 
)illaged settlements as he went along. All this, how- 
ever, could not prevent the outbreak of rebellions in 

ic conquered territory which the Assyrian governors 

ippointed by the king were powerless to master, and 

so in the reigns of Ashurnasirpal and his successors 

campaign follows upon campaign with almost monot- 

>nous regularity against the same districts to the north, 

lortheast and northwest, varied by endeavors to force 

le non-assimilated Bedouin groups, classed as Akh- 

imi and Suti, along the Euphrates to the southwest 
>f Assyria, back into the desert lands beyond. 

Remarkably successful in conquest by virtue of the 
>verwhelming force of her attack, Assyria showed her- 
self even in her best days weak in establishing a definite 

mtrol and in maintaining order in the conquered 
>rovinees. She failed in the organizing power which 

lade Rome for so long the mistress of the world. 
Shalmaneser III (c. 858-824 B.C.) leads in person 
annual campaigns for an uninterrupted period of 

renty-six years. The resources at the command of 

le king must have been nigh inexhaustible to provide 
for such a record, even if we make due allowance for 
exaggerations in the number of the forces encountered 

id in the enumeration of the men, horses, camels, 
chariots, etc., captured. 

The reign of Shalmaneser III is of special interest 

I because it marks the beginning of the period which 
brings Syria and Palestine at the mercy of the Assyrian 
power. 75 The northern Hebrew kingdom joins in a 
combination with Phoenician cities, with Damascus and 
Hamath and with the groups i n th e Taurus range to 
TB See the illustration above, Plate VI. 



oppose the Assyrian advance. At Karkar on the 
Orontes a great battle was fought in 854 B.C., which 
ended in a victory for Assyria, This state of affairs, 
however, lasted for a century and more before this por- 
tion of the ancient world finally succumbed, worn out 
by the drain on the resources and vitality of the petty 
states whose rivalry with one another prevented the 
formation of a permanently united kingdom whic 
might have withstood the Assyrian onslaught. 

In Assyria, on the other hand, the chief stumbling 
block in the way of equable progress, in addition to 
her inability to maintain order in her widely extended 
dominions, were the frequent internal rebellions — pre- 
cisely as in the south. Shalmaneser hirnself had to 
suffer the pain and humiliation of seeing one of his own 
sons, Ashurdaninapal, lead an uprising against him a 
few years before his death. Shamshi-Adad IV, how- 
ever, succeeded in overcoming his brother and in secur- 
ing an undisputed hold on the throne, though his reign 
was of short duration— just twelve years. Naturally, 
the internal disturbances had given all the provinces 
the desired opportunity to throw off the Assyrian yoke, 
and even Babylonia made attempts to regain her in- 
dependence. Accordingly, we find Shamshi-Adad 
obliged to go over the same territory again to the north 
and south, to the northeast, northwest, and even to the 
southwest in a series of campaigns for the purpose of 
regaining Assyria's lost prestige. 

We can pass rapidly over the next century, during 
which the rulers of Assyria on the whole maintained 
the strength of their kingdom and manifested the same 
weaknesses as their predecessors, and come to Tiglath- 
pileser IV, a usurper who in 745 B.C. inaugurates an era 
which gives to Assyria its most famous rulers — Shal- 
maneser V, Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and 
' Ashurbanapal. With him Assyria enters upon the last 
but also the most glorious phase of her history. Profit- 
ing by the abundant experience of the past, the rulers 




of the dynasty founded by Tiglathpileser perfected the 
organization of the Assyrian army to a degree which 
still arouses the admiration of students of military 
strategy of our own days. 

With Tiglathpileser the last step in the subjection 
of Babylonia to Assyria is taken through the direct 
assumption in its affairs by the kings of Assyria, who, 
no longer trusting the government to Babylonians, ap- 
pointed by them, either themselves act as the governors 
— "lieutenants of the god Bel" as they designate them- 
selves — or name a son or a brother as the ruler of the 
southern province, as which Babylonia is from this time 
on reckoned. Several expeditions were needed to bring N 
about a reassertion of Assyrian supremacy in the 
troublesome districts to the east and southeast. In both 
Babylonia and in districts to the east of Assyria, Tig- V 
lathpileser adopted on a larger scale the policy of set- 
tling colonists from parts of Assyria, and in return to 
transport portions of the population to other countries. 
In this way the rulers hoped to remove unruly elements 
and to secure by a mixture of the natives with loyal 
Assyrians, or with those who had no special interest in 
the district to which they were transported a more 
amenable populace. 

Hardly less difficult was Tiglathpileser 's task in the 
lands to the north, including the northeast and north- 
west. Here, after the reign of Shalmaneser III, Assyria 
had steadily lost ground until new independent king- 
doms had been formed by combinations of native 
groups, among which the kingdom of Urartu developed 
noteworthy strength. The difficulties of the situation 
were increased by the other combinations of states in 
the interior of Syria and Palestine and along the 
Phoenician coast, formed to resist the tribute imposed 
upon these districts by Assyria. The Assyrian king 
was obliged once more to turn his attention to Syria 
and Palestine, with the result that the northern Hebrew 
kingdom became practically a province of Assyria, 


while Judaea's position was only a trifle less precarious, 
because its king had voluntarily submitted to become 
tributary to Assyria. The eighteen years of Tiglath- 
pileser 's reign (745-727 B.C.) were thus filled with 
events of great importance. By his more systematic 
efforts actually to govern distant provinces reconquered 
by him, as by his policy above outlined 76 to remove 
causes of fomentation among conquered peoples, he 
gave a more permanent character to the results of his 
many campaigns in Syria, Palestine, and in lands to 
the north and northeast. Less permanent were the 
efforts to control the east and southeast, and it was from 
this quarter — Media and Elam—that his successors 
had much to endure. 

Of his son who ruled as Shalmaneser V for only 
five years (727-722 B.C.), we know little beyond his suc- 
cess in putting an end completely to the northern 
Hebrew kingdom which, relying perhaps upon help 
from Egypt, had refused the payment of tribute to 
Assyria. Before the capital, Samaria, actually fell, 
Shalmaneser died, succeeded by an usurper who on 
seizing the throne adopted as his name Sargon — asso- 
ciated as will be recalled with a most glorious dynast] 
of past ages. 77 


Like Tiglathpileser IV, Sargon probably rose from 
the ranks, but he could hardly have attained his posi- 
tion without some violence which, perhaps, he deemed 
it wiser to pass over in silence in his annals. In many 
respects the campaigns of Sargon are repetitions of the 
conditions prevailing in the days of Tiglathpileser. In 
Babylonia we find the "sea land" organizing an attempt 
to place a native once more on the throne, Mardukpalid- 
din, who starts out as a local chief by ingratiating him- 
self with Tiglathpileser IV, but as he grows in power 

™ Above, p. 175. See also p. 135. 
" Above, p. 133. 


es advantage of the change of dynasty to make him- 
self master of all Babylonia in the very same year that 
Sargon begins his rule. A first and immediate attempt 
to suppress Mardukpaliddin failed, and for the next 
years Sargon was so much occupied with campaigns 
against the Hittite state of which Carchemish was the 
capital, against the petty kingdoms of northern Syria 
and in the regions to the northeast that it was not until 
the year 710 B.C. that he succeeded in putting Marduk- 
paliddin out of the way, and in himself again assuming 
as king of Assyria the direct rule over the south as well. 
Sargon sets up the claim of being the deliverer of 
Babylonia and inaugurates a policy marked by great 
consideration for the ancient rights of the populace. 
The policy, however, was of little avail. Babylonia con^ 
tinued to chafe under the humiliation of a northern 
rule imposed upon her. The large centres were hotbeds 
of intrigue and opposition to Assyria. Uprisings be- 
ginning usually in the extreme south and fomented by 
Elam, which had hopes of again conquering her old 
enemy, followed in frequent succession until finally in 
the days of Sennacherib, the son of Sargon, the patience 
of Assyria was exhausted, and in 689 B.C. Sennacherib 
marched against Babylon and destroyed the ancient 
city entirely. 

The reigns of Sargon (721-705 B.C.) and of his son 
Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) thus mark further steps 
leading inevitably to the dissolution of the Babylonian 
kingdom after an existence of about two millenniums. 
The other new factor was the approaching conflict be- 
tween Assyria and Egypt. Foreshadowed in the days 
of Sargon, the direct encounter between the two 
mighty powers took place in 701 B.C., through the 
assistance given by Egypt to an uprising of Syria, the 
Phoenician coast and Palestine against the Assyrian 
yoke. The Egyptians were defeated, the uprising 
broken up, but owing to disturbed conditions in Baby- 
lonia, Sennacherib was unable to follow up the ad- 



vantage gained by him and hastened back to put things 
in order nearer home. 

It is surprising that Assyria was able to bear the 
strain of these campaigns, organized on a larger scale 
than before, for the entire century intervening between 
Tiglathpileser IV and the destruction of Nineveh in 
606 b.c. The stretch of her dominions passed beyond 
the borders of the Mediterranean. Under the greatest 
possible difficulties a fleet was added to the equipment, 
and Cyprus incorporated as a part of the Assyrian 

Sennacherib fell a victim in 680 B.C., to the blow of 
an assassin, who was his own son or according to the 
Biblical account,™ there were two sons involved. His 
son Esarhaddon, appointed by Sennacherib as the heir 
to the throne, succeeded in quelling the uprising and 
in establishing himself firmly. Reverting to the policy 
of his grandfather, Sargon, he decided to make an 
endeavor to reconcile the Babylonians by rebuilding 
the city of Babylon. Despite this, the u sea land 91 con- 
tinued to be a centre of opposition and Esarhaddon 
passed through the same experiences as his predecessors. 

Esarhaddon took the bold step of crossing over into 
Egypt. The victorious standard of Assyria was planted 
on the Nile, and in 670 b.c. the ancient capital Memphis 
fell into the hands of the Assyrian king. The ruling 
dynasty was overthrown, the government of the country 
reorganized under Assyrian control, though as a con- 
cession to tradition a native was recognized or set up 
by him as king of the twenty-two provinces or nomes 
into which Egypt was divided. In addition to Egypt, 
portions of northern and southern Arabia which had 
hitherto stood in a very loose connection with Assyria 
were brought under a firmer control, though it could 
hardly be said that the enormous tracts of central 
Arabia, so difficult of access and in which hordes of 
Bedouin tribes roamed at will, were ever really subject 

to Assyria. 

" II Kings 19, 36-37. 



With the advent of Ashurbanapal in 668 B.C., we 
reach the climax in the glory of the Sargonide dynasty, 
as upon his death, in 626 b.c, the rapid decline sets in. 
Legend soon gathered around his name and as Sardan- 
apalos among the Greeks he sums up as it were the 
spirit of Assyria's greatness. His efforts, to be sure, 
are largely taken up with maintaining the integrity of 
the vast empire claimed by Assyria, His campaigns in N 
one direction or the other are therefore on the whole 
attempts to quell disturbances and to strengthen the 
hands of those governors of provinces who were merely 
the tools of Assyria. Now it is Egypt to which his 
armies turn, now Syria and Palestine which are forced 
to pledge themselves anew to do homage to the mighty 
power, and again it is the various groups of northern 
Syria, in and beyond the Taurus range, and the moun- 
tain hordes to the northwest which have to be kept in 
check. In two directions Ashurbanapal branches out 
even beyond the ambitious scope of Esarhaddon, Lydia 
comes within his grasp on the one side, while in a series 
of campaigns he deals a severe blow against Elam, the 
old enemy on the east, and with the capture and death 
of Teumman, the Elamite king, puts an end for the time 
being to the independence of this district. 

The opposition to Ashurbanapal began once more in 
the south, and it was the king's own brother, Shamash- 
shumukin, whom he had appointed as governor of 
Babylonia, who organized an uprising on all sides 
against the Assyrian yoke. Ashurbanapal wreaked 
vengeance on those who had assisted his treacherous 
brother and, after quieting Babylonia, proceeded to in- 
flict punishment on Elam and Arabia for their share 
in the great uprising. The agitation in the north, too, 
gradually subsided, but the greatest danger to Assyria, 
the pressure of hordes pouring into Asia Minor towards 



the south, was one that even Ashurbanapal was unable 
to resist. Already in the days of Esarhaddon new 
groups like the Cimmerians, Mannai and Ashguzeans 
make their appearance in the royal annals, represent- 
ing a wave of Aryan migration across the Caucasus 
range and that appeal's to be one of a series of Volkcr- 
wanderungen in this general region. Esarhaddon and 
Ashurbanapal were able to keep the advance in check, 
but only by tremendous efforts involving the dispatch- 
ing of Assyrian armies of large size into the mountain 
ranges to the north and northeast. Twenty years after 
Ashurbanapal 's death, Nineveh fell, through a com- 
bination between the Babylonians and the wild hordes 
of the northeast — at that time grouped under the gen- 
eral designation of Manda, 

The rapidity with which Assyria declined after 626 
B.C., when Ashurbanapal passed away, will always re- 
main a puzzling ])henomenon. A gradual decline 
through exhausted vitality was to be expected, but that 
within twenty years the achievements of centuries 
should have crumbled like a house of cards is a sad 
reflection not only upon the transitoriness of mere 
worldly power, but upon the weakness of the founda- 
tions upon which the structure was reared. 

A country divided against itself cannot endure. 
Babylonia fell under Assyrian sway because the south 
was pitted against the north and preferred to have re- 
course to intrigue and to combinations with the enemy 
to the east — Elam — or with Bedouin hordes from the 
west and southwest rather than to unite with the north. 
Only strong rulers, as they arose from time to time, 
were able to keep the north and south of the Euphrates 
Valley firmly knit together. Similarly Babylonia and 
Assyria, although the latter was the offshoot of the 
former and both had practically everything in common, 
never held together, while even within Assyria as she 
expanded factions arose which threatened her unity at 


frequent intervals. Assyria and Babylonia both suc- 
cumbed to this inherent weakness, but Assyria fell first 
because of the exhaustion of her vitality through 
incessant warfare. 


We must not, however, take leave of her without 
considering briefly the other side of the picture — her 
achievements in other fields than conquest. It is a 
relief to find that her rulers, even those whose greed 
for power and for the extension of Assyria's borders 
was strongest, were zealous also in the promotion of 
works of peace, more particularly the embellishment of 
the capital in which they resided, though their concern 
was extended also to other places. Wars were under- 
taken in the name of <the gods, and with their help, 
and when victory crowned the Assyrian arms, to the 
gods belonged the glory. The kings, thus feeling at all 
times close to their gods, took every occasion to show 
their homage. Attached, therefore, to the annals de- 
tailing their military expeditions are accounts of the 
enlargement of the temples, of repairs to sacred edifices, 
which were so frequently required in the case of brick 
structures that building and rebuilding became synon- 
ymous terms. Next to the temples, the royal palaces, 
built in close proximity to the chief temples in each 
centre, engaged the attention of rulers; and they are 
equally proud of their efforts at improving conditions 
of life for the people by providing new canals to pro- 
vide good water supply and transportation facilities, 
laying out parks and gardens, regulating commercial 
dealings, affording protection to all classes of the com- 
munity. With the extension of political power, com- 
mercial intercourse with distant lands also expanded, 
and the priestly organization kept pace with the de- 
velopment of the military strength. 

Ashurbanapal, though perhaps not the greatest of 
Assyrian rulers, becomes the typical grand monarque, 




who, in addition to his campaigns organized on so large 
a scale, is the promoter of art and patron of learning. 
Nineveh, which from the time of Tiglathpileser IV 
on is selected as the capital, reaches the height of its 
splendor under the Sargonic dynasty. Its temples and 
palaces are worthy of the pre-eminent position acquired 
by Assyria as the mistress of the nearer Orient. Ashur- 
banapal embellishes his new palace with sculptured 
slabs representing scenes from his campaigns, engag- 
ing for this purpose the services of the best artists, and, 
following the initiative of Sennacherib, brought to- 
gether in his palace copies of the most important liter- 
ary productions of the past which his scribes copied 
from the originals in the temples of the south. 79 He 
thus made Nineveh a cultural as well as a military and 
political centre, for he succeeded in really gathering 
together a collection of tablets that merits the terni 
royal, embracing as it did, every branch of the literary 
activity of Babylonia during the long period of her 
existence, together with the additions to native liter- 
ature made by Assyria. 


The death of Ashurbanapal was the signal for the 
final uprising of Babylonia, and in 625 B.C., Nebopo- 
lassar, of humble birth and who came from the "sea 
land" in the extreme south which had always been the 
centre of political fermentation, became the independ- 
ent king of Babylonia, after having previously served 
as governor under Assyrian supremacy. He not only 
maintained himself against endeavors on the part of 
Assyria to overthrow him but he was able on his death, 
in 604 b.c, to pass over the succession to his son, 
Nebuchadnezzar, He founded a dynasty which lasted 
till close to the downfall of Babylon. Nebopolassar's 
reign was largely devoted to the strengthening of the 

T * Above, p. 21. 


kingdom and to rebuilding and improving the capital. 
He also took a part in the movement which led to the 
fall of Nineveh, though more as a fomenter of the 
opposition to Assyria than as a direct participant in 
the final attack. Nebuchadnezzar, however, was an 
active warrior as well as a promoter of prosperity in his 
own domain. A renewed spirit of aggressiveness had 
entered Egypt with the accession of Necho II, who had 
the ambition once more to make the nearer East, especi- 
ally Palestine and Syria, subservient to the Pharaohs. 
His success threatened the existence of Babylonia, and 
accordingly Nebuchadnezzar was sent by his father to 
an encounter with the Egyptian army at Carchemish, 
the old Hittite centre, which ended in a decisive victory 
for the Babylonians and checked the further advance 
of Egypt. 

During the next twenty years he made himself 
master of Syria and Palestine, crushing the little 
Hebrew kingdom, which had maintained a semblance 
of independence despite the weight of the Assyrian 
yoke. Egypt came to the rescue of Judaea and of the 
other principalities of this district, but it was of no 
avail. The fall of Jerusalem, in 586 B.C., marks another 
turning point in the affairs of the nearer east, for it 
meant the renewed ascendency of Babylonia and the 
decline of Egyptian influence. It was no easy task, 
however, for Nebuchadnezzar to bring the coast towns 
on the shores of the Mediterranean, notably Tyre, to 
subjection, and so it is not until 562 B.C. that we find him 
ready to invade Egypt. He seems to have proceeded 
into the heart of the country triumphantly, but never- 
theless fails actually to incorporate Egypt as a part of 
his own empire. But even without this he had succeeded 
in giving to Babylonia an extension and a power almost 
equal to that of Assyria in her most glorious days. 

Nebuchadnezzar II followed the example of the As- 
syrian monarchs in adding to the glory of his reign by 
extensive building operations. The city of Babylon 



was the primary object of his concern, and the boast 
recorded in the Book of Daniel, 80 "Is not this the great 
Babylon that I have built!" correctly associates the 
name of Nebuchadnezzar with the new Babylon that 
arose out of the ashes of the destroyed one. 81 Nebuchad- 
nezzar did not, however, confine his interest to the cap- 
ital city. The temples at Borsippa, Sippar, Larsa, Uruk, 
Ur and Dilbat were restored and beautified by him dur- 
ing the course of his reign. When Nebuchadnezzar 
died, in 561 B.C., he left to his son, Amel-Marduk ("man 
of the god Marduk"), a legacy which only a strong 
monarch could maintain intact The son did not possess 
this quality and after a reign of only a year fell a victim 
to a conspiracy against his life, fomented by his brother- 
in-law Neriglissar. This act marked the beginning of 
the decline of the neo-Babylonian empire, though before 
the end came we find a usurper, Nabonnedos, who main- 
tained himself for a period of sixteen years, from 555 
to 539 B.C. Internal dissensions hastened the end, so 
that when Cyrus the Mede marched against Babylon he 
was hailed by the priestly party, who were dissatisfied 
with Nabonnedos ' policy, as a deliverer come to restore 
the glory and dignity of the god Marduk. So quietly 
was the transfer of the control of the Euphrates Valley 
made to the old enemy to the east, that probably the 
people hardly felt that an epoch in the world's history 
had come to an end. 

Cyrus himself adopted a conciliatory policy towards 
the conquered land. His desire was to leave conditions 
undisturbed, and accordingly we find him and his suc- 
cessors maintaining the cult of the Babylonian gods in 
Babylon, Borsippa and in the other centres. Even the 
introduction of Zoroastrianism (or Zarathustrianism) 
as the official religion of Persia in the days of Darius I 
towards the end of the sixth century did not materially 
change conditions in Babylonia, except possibly in giv- 

"Chap. 4,27, 

" See above p. 55, for the excavation of this new city of Babylon. 


ing a new impetus to the movement to look upon Marduk 
as the god who embodied the attributes of all the other 
gods — a kind of Babylonian counterpart to Ahura- 
Mazda. On the other hand, the presence of a religion 
of so spiritualized a character as Zoroastrianism acted 
as a disintegrating factor in leading to the decline of 
faith in the gods of Babylonia. Both the religion and 
the culture of the Euphrates Valley had fulfilled their 
purpose. The time was ripe for the appearance of new 
forces in the world — first Persia and then, two centuries 
after Cyrus, Greece. Alexander's entrance into Baby- 
lonia in 331 b.c, where by a curious freak of historical 
chance he dies in the very palace which Nebuchadnezzar 
had erected for himself, marks another epoch in the 
world's history. Even after Alexander, the religious 
and social life of Babylonia goes on unchanged to out- 
ward appearances, but the contact with Greek civiliza- 
tion destroyed what little vitality had survived the im- 
petus of the new force represented by Persia and Zoro- 
astrianism. Up to within a few decades of the Christian 
era, the Babylonian language and script continued in 
use, but Greek ideas and Greek usages had made their 
way not only into the government of the country but 
also into the life of the people. 

If, in a final summing up, the question be asked, 
What was the legacy which Babylonia and Assyria 
left to the world after an existence of more than three 
millenniums, the answer would be, that through the 
spread of dominion the culture of the Euphrates Val- 
ley made its way throughout the greater part of the 
ancient world, leaving its impress in military organiza- 
tion, in the government of people, in commercial 
usages, in the spread of certain popular rites such as 
the various forms of divination, in medical practises 
and in observation of the movements of heavenly 
bodies — albeit that medicine continued to be dependent 
upon the belief in demons as the source of physical 
ills, and astronomy remained in the service of astrology 


— and lastly in a certain attitude towards life which it 
is difficult to define in words, but of which it may be 
said that, while it lays an undue emphasis on might, is 
yet not without an appreciation of the deeper yearn- 
ings of humanity for the ultimate triumph of what is 

The most unfortunate blot on the escutcheon of 
Assyria more especially is the craving for power, the 
ambition to extend her rule beyond the natural bound- 
aries, and which affected Babylonia as well though 
not to the same degree. Alexander, Caesar and 
Napoleon are the natural successors of the Babylonian 
rulers who first laid claim to being the "king of the 
four regions." War for conquest made both Assyria 
and Babylonia cruel and remorseless, as it proved to 
be the undoing of Borne. 



The hybrid character of the Babylonian-Assyrian 
civilization, the result, as we have seen, of the com- 
mingling of a non-Semitic or Sumerian element with 
the Semitic or Akkadian contingent, is reflected in the 
religion which in the formation of the pantheon, in 
the doctrines and in the cult is the outcome of the 
combination of these same two factors. To be sure, the 
mixture of the two factors is so complete that it is no 
longer possible to specify the features contributed by 
each, except along very general lines. This is particu- 
larly the case in the conceptions formed of the gods, 
for both those of Sumerian origin and those that may 
with more or less probability be regarded as Semitic in 
character take on the color demanded by the unfolding 
of social and political life. We know, for example, 
that a prominent deity in the earliest period, known as 
Enlil, and who indeed remained for a long time the 
head of the pantheon, was brought to the Euphrates 
Valley by the Sumerians. All indications point to his 
having been conceived by the Sumerians as a grim 
power who manifests himself in the storm and whose 
voice is heard in the thunder. As such his seat was 
placed on the top of the mountains, whence the storms 
sweep down. Such a deity belongs to a people whose 
rugged character would be formed by the mountainous 
region in which they dwelled. The Sumerians became 
agriculturists as the Akkadians had been, and they 
also engaged in the more peaceful pursuits incident to 
growing commercial activity. Corresponding to this 
transformation, Enlil became also an agricultural deity, 




who was appealed to as the power able to bring about 
the fertility of the fields and the success of the crops. 
Now, agricultural deities are either conceived as per- 
sonifications of the power residing in the sun as the 
chief factor involved in vegetation, or as the personifica- 
tion of the earth pictured as the female element in 
whose womb the seed ripens and in time brings forth 
fruit. Enlil, therefore, while not losing the fierce 
traits belonging to him as a mountain god w T hose ele- 
ment is the storm, absorbs the attributes of a solar 
deity, while his consort, Ninlil, 1 becomes the mother 
goddess who nurtures the seed and spreads bl< 
among mankind. Attempts have been made by various 
scholars to distinguish in the case of religious doctrines 
between Sumerian and Akkadian nuances, but without 
much success. 

Naturally, if we were in a position to trace t 
development of religious thought and practice in Baby- 
lonia and Assyria, we could differentiate more sharply 
between the Sumerian and the Akkadian elements. 
The material, however, at our disposal, though ample 
for obtaining a knowledge of details regarding the 
pantheon, the beliefs and the chief cults, is quite in- 
sufficient for tracing the history of the religion itself, 
except in general outlines. We can distinctly see the 
Sumerian conquerors imposing the names of their 
deities on the country, just as they imposed their lan- 
guage and script. As the superior cultural element, 
Sumerian beliefs predominate in the earliest periods, 
and the cult is similarly in its chief aspects to be re- 
garded as Sumerian, while the earliest religious liter- 
ature, including the form given to the popular myths, 
is entirely in Sumerian. And yet we must not be mis- 
led by these external features to set aside entirely the 
participation of the Akkadians in the unfolding of 
religious belief and practice* There are traces of 

*Nin designating "lady," as En is "lord." 


Semitic influences in the oldest votive inscriptions of 
Surnerian rulers. Semitic words make their way into 
the Sumerian language. 

Corresponding to these early Semitic influences, we 
find the Sumerians representing their gods generally 
with beards, after the fashion of the Semites, while 
they portray themselves as clean-shaven — a further in- 
dication that the Sumerians identified the deities 
whose worship they brought with them, with such as 
already formed the object of a cult marked by crude 
images of the deities to whom appeals were directed. 
Similarly, the characteristic Sumerian plain or 
flounced skirt, falling from the waist, gives way to a 
kind of plaid draped around the body from the left 
shoulder down, with or without a slit in the front, 
which appears to have been the Akkadian form of 
dress. 2 We are therefore justified in concluding that 
the Sumerians, thus assimilating even in external traits 
their gods with those which they already found in the 
country, also incorporated religious practices of the 
Akkadians into their cult ; they would naturally do this 
in order to ensure the good- will and favor of the 
indigenous gods whom they identified with their own. 

In this way we can account for the striking fact 
that in the long course of the Babylonian-Assyrian 
religion, running parallel to the history that extends 
over several millenniums, there is no sudden break, 
but, on the contrary, a continuous line of development. 
The gods worshipped in the latest period of Babylonian 
history are practically the same as those found in the 

* See on this whole subject Eduard Meyer's important mono- 
graph, Sumcrier U7id Semiten in Babylonien (Berlin, 1906), whose 
general conclusions seem to me to be definitely established, though 
in matters of detail there is room for differences of opinion. So, 
e.g., the two kinds of plaids found on early monuments are not so 
distinct as to justify us in regarding one variety as Sumerian and 
the other as Akkadian. Both represent, as I believe, the "Semitic" 
fashion of the country, as against the plain or flounced skirt. 



earlier stages. The relationship of these deities to one 
another changes with the vicissitudes of political 
transformations that the country undergoes. These 
vicissitudes also carry in their wake the absorption on 
the part of certain deities of attributes belonging to 
others. Semitic designations replace in some cases, 
though by no means in all, the Suinerian forms, but the 
chief personages of the Babylonian pantheon in the 
latest period can all be traced back to the old Baby- 
lonian epoch. The change of political control from the 
Sumerians to the Akkadians, of such fundamental 
significance in the history of Babylonia, leaves the 
religion practically unchanged, except for the rise of 
the local god of Babylon, Marduk, to the head of the 
pantheon by virtue of the pre-eminent position ac- 
quired by Babylon as the political centre of the gov- 
ernment, while the subsequent rise of Assyria to 
supremacy similarly carries with it no momentous 
changes in the pantheon or in the cult, beyond the rise 
of the god Ashur, originally a solar deity and the local 
patron of the city of Ashur, the early capital of 
Assyria, to the headship of the pantheon as finally con- 
stituted in the north. 


Bearing in mind this general aspect presented by 
the religion of Babylonia and Assyria, we may proceed 
to a consideration of the chief deities which we en- 
counter in the pantheon. These deities are all, at least 
originally, personifications of nature — an indication 
that among the Sumerians as among the Akkadians the 
basis of worship was an animistic conception of nature, 
as we find it among all peoples at a certain stage of 
culture, and which involves as a primary supposition 
the identification of all forms and manifestations of 
life in nature with that of which we are conscious in 
ourselves. Life is power, according to this view, and 
vice versa where there is a manifestation of power, 


lere must be life behind it. Moon and sun are two 
most obvious manifestations, active and powerful, mov- 
ing from place to place, both spreading light, and the 
sun in addition to light also warmth. Behind the 
manifestation, therefore, of these two powers there 
was life, and the same conclusion was dirawn with 
respect to trees and fields, renewing their life with 
uninterrupted regularity yearly after a period of 
steady decay and apparent death. Storms and rains 
to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning were 
by a similar logic ascribed to the activity of powers 
having the essential quality of life, and lastly there was 
life in the running waters and the bubbling springs and 
even in rocks and stones, wiiich by their peculiar and 
often fantastic formations suggested a petrification of 
objects that once possessed activity. As for the animal 
world around man, the activity put forth by the largest 
and the smallest species and one in so many respects 
of the same character as his own — -running, feeding, 
struggling, attacking, growing, languishing — forced on 
him the conclusion that the life within them was 
identical with that which conditioned his being. The 
gods worshipped by a people in this stage of culture 
are thus merely personifications of powers of nature 
— the sun, the moon, the power manifesting itself in the 
storm, in trees and fields, in the waters and in stones, 
while the form given by fancy to these powers may 
either be human or animal, or under certain conditions 
a combination of the two. 

Naturally, the material at our disposal for the study 
of the religion of Babylonia and Assyria heing of a 
literary character belongs to an age that has long left 
behind it the purely animistic conceptions and has ad- 
vanced to more abstract views of the relationship of 
man to the powers around him. The growth of village 
communities living under agricultural conditions leads 
to the association of a particular deity as the special 
patron and protector of the community, though we 



must not fall into the error of supposing that such a 
specific association excludes the worship of other 
deities. The importance of the sun for an agricultural 
community, since upon his favor the blessings of the 
fields depend, leads in many instances to the choice of 
the sun-god as the special deity of a place, though a 
cognate association of ideas, with the earth pictured as 
the gracious and fruit-bearing female element, might 
result elsewhere in making the great mother goddess 
the patron of some centre. Again, the presence of a 
large body of water flowing past some agricultural 
settlement would bring about a close affiliation with the 
life-spirit of the watery element, personified like the 
sun and like the earth as a divine power. To a people 
in the nomadic stage the moon as the measurer of time 
and as the guide for wanderings by night is of more 
significance than the sun, and it may happen that, by 
force of tradition, in some centres the moon-god will 
be chosen as the patron saint. Be this as it may, we find 
in the earliest period to which our material leads us 
back, sun-gods, the earth-goddess, water deities and 
moon-gods closely bound up with the various centres of 
Sumerian and Akkadian settlements in the Euphrates 
Valley. The lists of deities drawn up by the priests 
show us a bewildering array of local deities, and in con- 
nection with each deity we must perforce assume a 
local cult. Many of these local gods or goddesses play 
a minor part in the history of Babylonia so far as 
known to us, and still more of them no part at all, so 
that they are little more than names for us. In many 
cases we cannot even tell whether the deities concealed 
behind the strange-sounding Sumerian appellations 
are personifications of the sun or of the earth-goddess, 
of the moon or of the watery element. Only in the 
case of those local cults which, because of the political 
role played by the respective centres, come within the 
historical horizon are we in a position to specify the 
attributes assigned to them. When, in addition to 


votive inscriptions in their honor, we have hymns and 
prayers addressed to them, the details of the concep- 
tions formed of them are clearly revealed. In this way 
we obtain a stately array of the main figures of the old 
Babylonian pantheon — Enlil, Ninib, Ningirsu, Nergal, 
Ann, Ea, Shamash, Sin, Adad, Marduk, Nabu and their 
consorts, and of the chief goddess, Nana or Ishtar. 


In the preceding chapter we pointed out that the 
oldest historical and literary documents reveal a vary- 
ing number of little states or principalities in the 
Euphrates Valley, grouped around some centre, with 
now one of these centres, now another, exercising a 
measure of control over a larger section. This political 
picture is complemented on the religious side by the 
corresponding growth of the local deity to a position 
commensurate in proportion to the political control 
acquired by the centre in question; and as the local 
deity extends his sway, he is endowed with attributes 
that are quite independent of the power of nature 
which he originally personified. The tendency also be- 
comes pronounced for the deity associated with a 
powerful centre not only to be given the attributes of 
other local deities but actually to absorb minor deities, 
so that the names of the latter become designations of 
the more powerful one. The conquest of a district 
carried with it the conquest of its gods, and in case the 
latter are not entirely absorbed, they are placed in a 
dependent position, as children, servants or officials 
of the triumphant god. In this way, through the close 
interrelations between the states of the Euphrates 
Valley — usually hostile in character and constantly 
shifting — there arises a pantheon which involves a 
selection out of the large number of once existing local 
deities, prompted by the rise to prominence of a limited 
number of centres. Naturally, in the development of 



religious doctrines and in the unfolding of religious 
organization other factors besides the political one 
enter into consideration, so that the parallel between 
the shifting political panorama and the relationship of 
the gods of the various centres to one another is not 
complete. The latter relationship, when once it be- 
en mes definite, is not changed by every turn in political 
affairs but only through transformations of a large 
character; and even then gods whose position in the 
pantheon is fixed by tradition are not seriously affected 
by the vicissitudes of the centres to which they origi- 
nally belonged; they survive the decline and even the 
complete eclipse of these centres. The religious life 
of a people is always more enduring than its political 
fortunes. The organization of a pantheon ensures for 
those gods fortunate enough to find a place therein a 
permanency, both theoretical and practical, which is 
often in contrast to the political history of the centres 
in which their worship arose. The god Enlil, to whom 
we had occasion to refer several times, is an illustration 
in point. Through circumstances which we are no 
longer able to follow, the city of Nippur became the 
seat of the cult of Enlil. Nippur became so thoroughly 
identified with Enlil that the name of the city was 
written by a series of signs designating it as the " place 
of Enlil." A storm-god, partaking of the aggressive 
character of his worshippers, Enlil is naturally pict- 
ured as a mighty warrior who leads his subjects to 
victory. He is present in the midst of the fray. To 
him as the god of war the victories are ascribed and 
paeans are sung in his honor in his temple at Nippur, 
which in view of his original seat is appropriately 
known as E-kur, "the mountain house." 

An invocation that occurs frequently in a series of 
lamentation songs, 3 bewailing catastrophes that have 

1 See Langdon, Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, pp. 90, 106, 
seq., 114, 126, etc. 


swept over the land, portrays the strength ascribed to 


"Lord of lands, 
Lord of the true word, 
Enlil, father of Sumer, 
Shepherd of the dark-headed people, 4 
Seeing through his own power, 
Strong guide of (his) people, 
Causing multitudes to dwell together." 

The original personification of Enlil as the mighty, 
onrushing storm whose voice is heard in the roar of the 
thunder leads to an elaborate symbolism of the "word" 
of the deity, which becomes a synonym of his power. 
In many variations this "word" of the storm-god is 
celebrated. 5 

* 'The word which rages in the heavens above, 
The word which causes the earth below to quake, 
The word which strikes terror among the Anunnaki.* 
Beyond the seer, beyond the diviner, 
An onrushing storm which none can oppose, 
Raging in the heavens above, causing the earth below to quake, 
Tearing mother from daughter like a burii-reed. 
It overwhelms the marshes in full verdure, 
It overflows the harvest in season, 
A flood tearing away the dams, 
It uproots the huge mesu-treea, 
Reducing all things to submission/ ' 

Such is Enlil who, as the chief god of Nippur, be- 
comes the head of the pantheon with the Sumerian 
conquest of the country and who retains this position 
long after Nippur has ceased to be the political centre. 
The cult of Enlil, in fact, lends to his patron city a 
significance far outreaching its political prestige even 

1 I.e., the Sumerians. 

* E.g., Reisner, Sumerisch-Babylonische Hymnen, No. vii, rev. 

•A collective name for a minor group of deities. Even the 
gods fear the word of Enlil. 



in the heyday of its glory. As a religions centre, 
Nippur becomes a sacred city, not unlike that of centres 
of pilgrimage in our own days like Jerusalem, Benares, 
Mecca and Rome. The sanctity of Nippur survived 
the downfall of both Babylonia and Assyria, and the 
sacred quarter of the city in which the temple stood 
was converted into a burial place acquiring sanctifica- 
tion by its time-honored associations to which even 
Jews and Christians manifested their attachment down 
to the seventh century of our era. 7 

The position of the god as the head of the pantheon 
entailed as a natural consequence the grouping of the 
other chief deities and of many minor deities about 
him. Smaller temples and shrines were erected for 
these deities, forming as it were the court of Enlil, 
around the chief sanctuary. In the extracts from re- 
ligious compositions above given, he is regarded also 
as the power which brings forth vegetation. The storm 
god has become a solar deity. The control of the watery 
element is likewise assigned to him so that he becomes 
a water deity as well. The tendency grew to associate 
with Enlil as many gods as possible, with the implica- 
tion that the latter derived their powers from this asso- 
ciation. The gods stand in dread of him, precisely as 
do his subjects. He is the god of all lands, controlling 
gods and men alike. 


There are good reasons for believing that a deity 
whose name is provisionally read as Ninib, but the real 
pronunciation of which was probably Enmasht, 8 was 

T See Montgomery, Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur 
(Philadelphia, 1913). 

8 See Clay, Amurru, p. 197. The names of the gods (as to a large 
extent proper names in general) being written in ideographic form, 
we cannot in all cases be sure of the exact pronunciation, particu- 
larly when the names are Akkadian and merely written in their . 
Sumerian form. 


an earlier patron deity of Nippur who was forced to 
yield his position to the all-conquering EnliL If, as 
has been made probable, 8 this deity was of Ainoritic 
origin, whose cult was brought to Babylonia by Semites 
coming from the northwest, we would have a further 
proof for the thesis which assiunes that the Semitic 
settlers preceded the Sumerians in the Euphrates 
Valley. The secondary position of Ninib after the ad- 
vent of Enlil is indicated by the title "son of Enlil" or 
"offspring of E-kur," 10 almost invariably attached to 
his name in invocations. This relationship of father 
and son is merely the formula to find a place for two 
deities associated with the same centre, or to indicate a 
control of one centre by the other, just as the designa- 
tion of one deity as the servant of another or as holding 
some official rank iu the service of a god is the manner 
in which Babylonian priests expressed, in the case of 
two gods representing originally the same natural 
power, the supremacy of the one over the other, Ninib 
in contrast to Enlil is a solar deity, who protects the 
fields, causes the verdure to grow and brings prosperity 
and the blessings of rich crops to the population. It is 
from Ninib that Enlil takes over the milder attributes 
of an agricultural deity, a Baal or * 4 lord ' p of the fields, 
but in return Ninib, adopted by the Sumerians, be- 
comes like his father, a war-god, armed for the fray 
and whose presence is felt in the thick of battle. In- 
deed, so prominently is this trait emphasized, espe- 
cially in the votive and historical inscriptions of both 
Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, .that it overshadows 

9 Clay, ib., p, 121. If the god Enmasht is of Semitic origin, then 
we must assume that the Sumerian element En, meaning "lord," 
was attached to the name by the Sumerians to whom also the 
method of writing the name as Nin-ib must be due. The problem is 
an exceedingly complicated one and cannot be discussed here. 
"Amorite," it should be added, is a general designation for north- 
western Syria. 

" The name of Enlil 's temple is often used for the god himself. 



the original solar and beneficent character of Ninib. 
One of these hymns, shading off into an incantation 
for the exorcising of a demon of disease, begins: ■ ' 

"O, Ninib, mighty g<nl, warrior, ruler of the Anunnaki, controller 

of the Igigi" 
Judge of all things, who shuts off the door of darkness, who dis- 
sipates the obscurity, 11 
Who renders decisions for mankind in their settlements, 
Resplendent lord, bestowing power on the land through his decision, 
Who seizes the demon Ti'u 14 and drives him back to his place. 
Merciful one, granting life, bringing the dead to life, 
Who controls right and justice, destroying evil( f), 
Whose active weapon destroys all enemies." 

The solar character of Ninib is clearly revealed in 
the power ascribed to him of dissipating darkness, as 
well as in epithets emphasizing his brilliancy. In the 
course of the hymn he is expressly described as a 
*' burning fire/* with a direct allusion to the glow of 
the sun's rays. The sun-gods, moreover, are always 
associated in the religious literature of Babylonia and 
Assyria with justice and the punishment of the evil- 
doers. His enemies are the evil-doers, the law breakers 
who are brought to justice and punished in accord with 
the righteous decrees that are traced back to him. It 
is Ninib, the sun-god, who is celebrated as the one who 
renders decisions, who dispenses justice to all mankind, 
who overthrows evil and scatters the enemies who are 
identified with evil-doers. Even as a warrior, Ninib 
does not cast off his role as a judge. His weapon is 
raised in order to smite evil. The cause of his subjects 
is a just one, and therefore he accords them his power- 
ful aid. His temple in Nippur, known as E-shu-me-du, 
occupies a rank only second to E-kur itself ; and as a 

11 See Jensen, Kosmologie der Bahylonur, pp. 470-472, 
ia A collective name, like Anuimaki, for a group of minor deities, 
"fife, "of the night." 

"A demon of disease, the cause of troubles having their seat in 
the head. 


trace of the former's independent position occupied by 
Xinib, the New Year's day continued, even after Enlil 
had become the head of the pantheon, to be celebrated 
as the festival of Ninib when gifts were offered to him 
and his consort Gula, and ceremonies enacted in his 
temple, symbolical of his marriage at the beginning of 
a new year. His festival was also the occasion when 
the fates of individuals for the coming year were de- 
cided by him. The beneficent character of Ninib crops 
out also in assigning to him and his consort the power 
of healing, to which references are likewise made in the 
quoted hymn. Ninib saves his subjects from the 
clutches of the demons of disease. It is in this sense 
that he is spoken of as bringing those near death back 
to life. The other more aggressive aspect leads to 
making Ninib the deity who presides over the chase 
of wild animals— a favorite sport of the Assyrian 
kings. The chase is a species of warfare and it seemed 
natural, therefore, to dedicate the spoils of the chase to 
Ninib and to pour out libations to him over the dead 
bodies of lions and wild bulls w laid low by royal 

The pre-eminence enjoyed at one time by Ninib 
over other solar deities associated with other centres is 
shown by the identification of such deities with him* 
The names borne by other solar deities become epithets 
of Ninib. Prominent among these is Ningirsu, the 
chief deity of a centre, Lagash, in southern Babylonia, 
where, it will be recalled, 1 a extensive excavations have 
been carried on. The name signifies "lord of Girsu" 
— Girsu being the name of a section or quarter of 
Lagash, presumably the one in which the temple of the 
god stood* For a long period Lagash played an impor- 
tant role in the early political history of Babylonia; 

11 See Plate LV in Chapter VII. 
ie See above, p. 39, seq. 



its rulers extended their sway over a considerable por- 
tion of southern Babylonia, but eventually they were 
reduced to a secondary position, and it nrast have been 
at this time that Ningirsu was practically identified 
with Ninib, becoming, as it were, merely a manifesta- 
tion of the great solar deity of Nippur. Ningirsu 's 
consort, Bau, similarly becomes synonymous with Gula, 
the consort of Ninib. Precisely like Ninib, Ningirsu 
is commonly designated as a warrior, the son of Enlil, 
armed with powerful weapons that create havoc among 
the enemies of his subjects. On monuments found at 
Lagash he is thus represented, notably on a remarkable 
stele/ 7 graphically illustrating a severe conflict between 
Lagash and Umma — which ended in the triumph of 
Eannatum (c. 2920 B.C.). 18 The victory, however, is 
due to the intervention of Ningirsu, who is portrayed 
in majestic size, holding the standard of Lagash in one 
hand, while in the other he has a huge net in which the 
enemy is held captive. The temple of Ningirsu at 
Lagash, known as E-ninnu ("house of fifty"), was 
filled with votive offerings of all kinds dedicated by 
rulers or high officials to Ningirsu. Like Ninib, 
Ningirsu also manifests a beneficent aspect as the god 
of vegetation. 

The fate of Ningirsu in being absorbed by Ninib 
also overtakes another solar deity, Zamama, the patron 
of Kish, which was a centre that at one time exercised 
a wide sway. 19 Like Ningirsu, Zamama becomes little 
more than a designation of Ninib, and as a war-god is 
likewise addressed as the "son of Enlil"; and the same 
applies to the solar deity of Dilbat, Urash, whose name 
becomes an epithet of Ninib. The force of the tra- 
dition acquired by Nippur seems to have maintained the 
cult of Ninib even after Shamash of Sippar becomes 
the sun-god par excellence. Ninib 's cult is transferred 

1T See Plate XLVII. 

ai See above, p. 128. 

M Above, p. 126, seq. 


to Assyria. A temple to him is erected by Ashurnasir- 
pal III (883-859 B,a) in Calah, for a time the capital 
of Assyria. 20 A statue of the god of colossal dimensions 
is placed in the sacred niche, and provision made for 
the maintenance of the cult and for the celebration of 
the time-honored festival of Ninib and Gula. The 
kings of Assyria are fond of invoking Ninib among 
the powers which grant victory to the Assyrian armies, 
and we have seen the role which Ninib plays in Assyria 
as the god of the chase. Despite this, however, some 
of his prestige is lost in the course of time through the 
pre-eminence acquired by the sun-god of Sippar, whose 
Sumerian name is Babbar but who is more commonly 
known by the Akkadian designation Shamash, the com- 
mon term in all the Semitic languages for the sua. 


The great antiquity of Sippar is vouched for by the 
results of excavations conducted on the site, 21 but it is 
still an open question whether another seat of Shamash 
worship at Larsa is not even older. We must, at all 
events, assume some relationship between the two 
centres, for in both places the names given to the patron 
deity and to his temple, E-Babbar (" resplendent 
house"), are identical. It is a direct consequence of 
the Semitic control of Babylonia which becomes pro- 
nounced in the days of Sargon and Naram-sin ** that 
Shamash acquires his pre-emineut position as the sun- 
god par excellence, for Sippar is in close proximity to 
Agade and shared with the latter the prestige of being 
the capital of the kingdom that rose to supremacy 
under Sargon. Shamash is represented on monuments 
and on numerous seal-cylinders ^ as a majestic figure 

20 So in the days of his successor SheLmaneser III. 
" Above, p, 37, seq. 
n Above, p. 135, seq. 

n See Plate LXXV, Fig. 3, and Plate LXXVII, Fig. 1, at the 
close of Chapter VII. 



seated on a throne, or stepping over a mountain, or pass- 
ing through gates to symbolize the rise of the great 
orb of light, or sailing in a boat across the heavens. 
Frequently also rays are depicted as issuing from his 
shoulders. As the god of light, he is the general object 
of adoration, and the specific association with Larsa or 
Sippar does not stand in the way of his becoming a 
deity whose worship extends throughout Babylonia and 
passes northward into Assyria. In all large centres 
temples or shrines to Shamash were erected. Baby- 
lonian and Assyrian rulers from the oldest to the 
latest period include Shamash in the invocations to the 
chief gods of the pantheon at the beginning of votive 
or historical inscriptions. So, to give an example of 
the early period, Lugalzaggizi, the king of Uruk (c. 
2750 b.c), designates himself in the introduction to 
one of his inscriptions 24 as 

"The great patesi n of Enlil, endowed with understanding by 
Ea," whose name was called - 1 by Babbar (ue., Shamash), the chief 
minister of Sin, a * the lieutenant of Babbai-j the provider for Inniiia. 
the child of Nisaba,™ nourished with the milk of Ninkharaag, 80 
the servant of Mes, 81 the priest of Uruk. * ' 


At the other end of Babylonian history we find the 
king of Babylon, Nabonnedos (555-539 B.C.), particu- 
larly devoted to the service of Shamash, enlarging and 
restoring his temples in Sippar, Larsa and Babylon, 

** Hilprecht, Old Babylonian Inscriptions, I, 2, No. 87, Col. I, 

38 A sacerdotal office which, however, also included stxiular 

aa Written En-ki. See below, p. 210, seq. 

11 I.e., called to his high station. 

28 The moon-god, written En-zu. See below, p. 222. 

" A goddess presiding over vegetation. 

,0 "The lady of the mountain, " a title of the consort of 

11 An otherwise unknown deity. 


and invoking his aid almost to the exclusion of other 
gods in the political crisis which ended in the advent 
of Cyrus and in the fall of the neo-Babylonian empire. 32 

The hymns in honor of Shamash, of which we have 
a large number, belong to the finest specimens of 
Babylonian and Assyrian literature, celebrating the 
god as the benefactor of mankind who sheds his light 
and his warmth in all directions, whose rays ripen 
the produce of the fields, who is the source of pros- 
perity and of all manner of blessings, who spreads 
justice, who rewards the virtuous and punishes the 
wicked and who is also the judge who protects his 
people, and as a mighty warrior accomplishes the over- 
throw of the enemv on the field of battle, 

A hymn which was evidently composed as a greet- 
ing to Shamash as he appears on the horizon begins 
as follows : ■* 

"0 l©rd t illuminator of the darkness, opening the face (of heaven ?), 
Merciful god, raising the humble, protecting the weak; 
For thy light the great gods wait, 
All the AnunnaM look for thy appearance, 
All tongues " dost thou direct as a single being." 
With raised heads they look expectantly towards the sunlight ; 
Thou art the light for the remotest bounds of heaven, 
The banner for the wide earth art thou; 
AU mankind look upon thee with joy. 

Briefly but effectively the expectant moments just 
before sunrise are described, the gods joining with 
mankind in waiting anxiously for the appearance 
of the great orb ; and when the tension is released and 
the light spreads to all sides, all creation is represented 

"See above, p, 184. 

" Rawlinson IV, 2 PL 19, Nr. 2. 

" /.c, all peoples. 

" The sun guides all humanity as one directs a single individual. 



as breaking out into joy. No less impressive is the 
description and praise of the sun at sunset: 3C 

' ' 0, Shamash, on thy entrance into the heavens, 
May the resplendent bolts of heaven greet thee, 
May the gates of heaven bless thee, 
May Meshara," thy beloved messenger, direct thee ! 
Over E-Babbar, the seat of thy rule, let thy supremacy shine, 
May A, thy beloved consort, step joyfully before thee, 
May thy heart be appeased," 
May the table of thy divinity be spread, 39 
0, Shamash, powerful warrior, be thou glorified ! 
lord of E-Babbar, pass on, thy course be rightly directed ! 
Take thy way, on a firm path 40 move along ! 
Shamash, judge of the world, giver of aU decisions art thou. ' 

We find in all ancient religions a certain fear asso- 
ciated with moments of transition, whether it be the 
transition of one season of the year to another, or the 
transition of one phase of the moon to the succeeding 
one, or the transition of the child from the womb into 
the light. In accord with this the appearance of the 
new moon and the time of full moon are fraught with 
special significance, and similarly in the case of the sun, 
the moment of sunrise and that of sunset. Hence the 
hope expressed in the hymn that the sun may safely 
enter into the midst of the heavens and be properly 
directed to pursue the correct path, so as to be certain 
to make its appearance in the morning at the expected 
time. If the sun should by any chance lose its way, 
disaster would follow. Emphasis is laid on the guid- 
ance afforded by Shamash. It is he who directs man- 
kind into the right path, just as the sun pursues the 
right road in moving across the heavens. The right 

M Abel-Winckler, Keilschriftexte zum Gebrauck bei Vorlesungen 
(Berlin, 1890), pp. 59-60. 

-f "Righteousness" — personified as an attendant of Shamash. 
81 I.e., may Shamash show himself gracious and not be angry. 
•• May rich offerings he placed before Shamash. 
*» The "firm path' 1 along which the sun moves is the ecliptic. 


path for mankind is justice, and it is through Shamash 
as the supreme judge that the cause of the righteous 
is protected and hidden enemies brought to light. 

In the case of a religion unfolding and developing 
hand in hand with advancing culture, and following 
more or less closely the political vicissitudes of the 
country, we must be prepared for the theoretical elab- 
oration of the doctrinal aspects of the current beliefs, 
by the side of a steady enlargement in the organiza- 
tion of the cult and the priesthood in connection with 
the chief deities of the pantheon. The result of such 
a process continued for many centuries is to lead to 
attempts at a systematization of the currents and 
counter-currents of popular beliefs* It is part of the 
system devised by priestly activity to find a place in 
the pantheon for deities that personify the same power 
of nature. The god Ninib, we have seen, absorbed the 
roles of the other local sun-gods in the earlier Baby- 
lonian period, but was obliged to yield his prerogatives 
to a still greater solar deity, Shamash, Such, how- 
ever, was the force of tradition that Ninib could not 
be entirely set aside in favor of Shamash, A place had 
therefore to be found for Ninib in the pantheon, and 
this was done by differentiating between the phases 
of the sun according to the seasons of the year. The 
sun in a sub-tropical climate like the Euphrates Val- 
ley with only two seasons, a rainy one beginning in 
the fall and lasting till the spring, and a dry one dur- 
ing the siunmer months, presents two aspects, as a 
beneficent and revivifying force in the spring, driving 
away the rains and the storms and bringing new life 
in the fields after the apparent extinction of all vitality 
during the winter months, and as a raging and de- 
structive one during the torrid months when its fierce 
rays scorch the earth, and the intense heat brings suf- 
fering, sickness and often death. Shamash was the sun 
as a whole, while Ninib became in the theological 
system of the priests the sun of the springtime, and by 



a natural association also the morning sun. The sun 
as a destructive and hostile force was symbolized by 
another solar deity, Nergal, who, originally the local 
deity of an important centre in southern Babylonia, 
Cuthah, became the sun of the midsummer season and 
the sun of the noon-time. The cult of Nergal takes 
us back again to the old Babylonian period when Cuth- 
ah 41 was the political focus of one of the principalities 
in the Euphrates Valley, enjoying an independent ex- 
istence and exercising sway over a considerable ter- 
ritory, even though the details of the history of the 
kingdom of Cuthah still escape us. Nergal was too 
prominent a solar deity to be absorbed by Ninib. His 
temple at Cuthah, known as E-shidlam, acquired great 
prominence at an early period. We find him repre- 
sented by a shrine or sanctuary at Nippur within the . 
sacred area in which E-kur stood, and when Babylon 
became the political and religious capital of the coun- 
try, the cult of Nergal was transferred to this centre 
and continued in force to the end of the Babylonian 
monarchy. Like Ninib and Shamash, Nergal was 
pictured as a warrior but one of an invariably grim 
countenance, a god of battle, whose destructive power 
was directed against all mankind. True, he also leads 
his subjects to victory, but more commonly he deals 
out pestilence and death. He strikes unawares and 
he strikes apparently without discrimination. He is 
not a just judge like Shamash, but a god, filled with 
rage, stalking about in the heat of the day on the look- 
out for victims. Nergal is thus primarily the god of 
death. When pestilence sweeps over the land, it is 
ascribed to Nergal *s activity. Because of this forbid- 
ding aspect, it was all the more important to raise one's 
appeal to him in the hope of averting his wrath. The 
hymns to Nergal, of which we have quite a number,* 1 

41 See above, p. 124, and below p. 455. 

41 See Bollewucher, Gebete und Hymncn an Nergal (Leipzig, 


all emphasize the severity and irresistible power of 
the god. He is pictured as a lion, which animal be- 
comes his symbol. His solar character crops out in 
epithets that describe his brilliancy. Like Ninib, he is 
tin- son of Enlil who carries out the commands of his 
father, and as a god of death his presence is naturally 
felt also in the midst of battle. One of the hymns to 
him begins as follows: * 3 

"Lord, strong, supreme, first-born of Nunammir, 44 

Riiler of the Anunnaki, lord of battle, 

Offspring of Kutushar/ 3 the great queen, 

Nergal, mighty one among the gods, beloved of Ninmenna,** 

Thou shinest on the brilliant heaven, high is thy station; 

Great art thou in the realm of the dead, without a rival art thou ; 

By the side of Ea, 47 thy counsel is supreme in the assembly of the 

With Siu,* 8 thou overseest all in heaven. 
Enlil, thy father, entrusted to thee, the dark-headed, all living 

The animals of the field and all swarming creation into ttiy hand." 

The solar character of Nergal is unmistakably re- 
vealed in these lines, which also indicate the endeavor 
to connect the god with other leading figures of the 
pantheon. As the god of pestilence and death, his 
special realm, however, is the lower world where the 
dead are huddled together and which was regarded as 
a dark, gloomy prison with Nergal and a goddess, 
Aliatu, as the merciless overseers to prevent the escape 
of any of the prisoners back to the upper world. 

There is still another solar deity, originally a local 
patron of an ancient centre, and who retains his identity 
in the systematized pantheon by being advanced to the 

41 King, Babylonian Magic and Sorcery, Nr. 27. 

44 A title of Enlil, conveying the force of "hero of rulership." 

45 A goddess. 

4 * "Lady of the crown"— a title of Kutushar, one of the names 
of the consort of Nergal, 

47 The god of humanity. 

48 The moon-god, 



general control of the heavens or the upper regions. 
This is Anu who is so closely associated originally with 
Uruk in southern Babylonia as to leave no doubt of 
his being at the start merely the patron deity of that 
place. The theoretical aspect of the Babylonian re- 
ligion to which attention has been directed 49 is illus- 
trated by the position accorded to Anu. He becomes 
the god of heaven, just as Enlil is placed in control 
of the earth and the atmosphere above it, and a third 
deity, Ea, originally the god of the Persian Gulf, be- 
comes the power in control of the watery element in 

This threefold division of the universe — heaven, 
earth and water— with the assignment of one deity 
each division is clearly the work of the priestly schools 
attached to the Babylonian temples. It has an aca- 
demic flavor. It is only through a phase of speculation 
which has all the earmarks of the school that the notion 
arises of the heavens as a distinct section of the uni- 
verse with some god in general control, just as further 
speculation of this character leads to the predication of 
the other divisions of the universe — the earth with the 
atmosphere above it and the watery expanse ; and since 
even the advanced speculation unfolded in the schools 
adopts the language and metaphors of the animistic 
view of all nature, the threefold division of the uni- 
verse leads to assigning to each one a god in control, 
Anu for the heavens, Enlil for the earth with the sur- 
rounding atmosphere, and Ea for the waters. As the 
god of heaven, Anu becomes the "king of the gods" 
and their "father." The triad Anu, Enlil and Ea arc 
invoked at the beginning of votive and historical in- 
scriptions in a manner which shows that the original 
and specific character of these deities has been entirely 
lost sight of. Enlil was chosen as the second figure of 
the triad because he was the most prominent of the 
gods whose power was manifested on the earth and in 

** Abort, p. 205. — 


the atmosphere above it, while the choice of Ea as the 
third member was a similar logical process because he 
was in control of the greatest body of water known to 
the Babylonians. As the god of the Persian Gulf, Ea 
was naturally selected as the personification of the 
watery element in general. 

The conception of Ann as the king and father of 
all the gods furthermore reflects the period when the 
seat of the gods was projected on the heavens. Such 
a view is closely entwined with astrological notions, and 
rests upon the theory which identifies planets and stars 
with the gods of the pantheon and quite independent 
of their original character places the seats of all the 
gods, the one who presides over the divisions of the 
drawn up by Babylonian and, later, by Assyrian priests 
are to a large extent compiled in the interest of the 
astrological system devised in the schools, and which 
necessitated designations for a large and ever increas- 
ing number of stars. It is therefore in an astrological 
sense that Anu is viewed as the king and father of the 
gods, the one who presides over the division of the 
universe in which each one of the gods has his assigned 
station, and since sun and moon are also suspended in 
the heavens, Anu as the god of heaven is supreme also 
over the two great orbs of light. In the actual cult 
of Babylonia, Anu plays a relatively minor part. We 
do not find hymns and prayers addressed to him, and 
even in his original seat of worship, it is a goddess, 
Nana, the personification of the female element in 
nature, who appears to have been within the period 
embraced by historical documents the chief object of 

In an enumeration of the pantheon, however, in the 
old Babylonian period Anu is rarely omitted, and, in- 
stead of Nana, a consort, Antum, is assigned to him — 
a name representing merely a feminine form of the god 
Anu. All the gods and goddesses being children of 
Anu and Antum, the name of Anu is often added both 


in votive inscriptions and in the religious literature in 
connection with the name of a deity. So for example, 
Gudea frequently adds to the name Bau, the consort of 
Ningirsu, that she is the " daughter of Ami" or "the 
chief daughter" 60 , and even Enlil is designated as the 
son of Ami. 61 Occasionally instead of the triad, we 
find only Anu and Enlil enumerated as summing up 
the manifestation of divine power among mankind. 

Ordinarily, however, the third member of the triad 
is included. As a matter of fact the god Ea is one of 
the most important as well as one of the most interest- 
ing figures in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon. He 
begins his career as the local deity of Eridu, so that he 
becomes the personification of the watery element in 
general because the Persian Gulf on or near which 
Eridu was situated 62 was the largest body of water 
known to the Babylonians, the "father" of all waters. 
The oldest settlements of the Euphrates Valley are 
those nearest to the Persian Gulf. The part that water 
plays in the life of mankind and in the development of 
human culture is quite sufficient to account for the 
unique position acquired by Ea in the pantheon as the 
protector of humanity, the friend and guide of man in 
his career, subject to such constant vicissitudes. He 
is the teacher also who instructs man in the various 
arts. 58 It is Ea who endows the rulers with intelligence 
as it is he who presides over the fine arts, instructing 
men in architecture, in working precious metals and 
stones and in all the expressions of man's intellectual 
activity. Thus Ea may briefly be denned as the god 
of civilization, The friend of mankind, it is to him 
that one turns in the first instance when other gods 

•° B.g. t Statue B, Col. 8, 58. 

B1 By Lugakaggisi in the inscription above (p. 202) referred to. 
Col. 3, 16. 

•• Owing to the steady accumulation of the soil, Abu-Shahrein, 
the site of Eridu, is now some sixty miles from the head of the Quit 

" Cory, Ancient Fragments, (2d ed.) p. 22, seq. 




1 • -, 

^tr* . H 




«' J^H / 




seem hostile. When the gods in counsel decide to bring 
on a destructive rain-storm, it is Ea who reveals the 
purpose to a favorite of his who by constructing a ship 
for himself and his family escapes destruction; and 
similarly in another myth it is Ea who tries to secure 
immortality for mankind, though he alas I fails to do so. 

The healing qualities of springs, which man must 
have ascertained at an early period by experience, was 
no doubt a factor in making Ea a chief figure in the 
incantation rites for the purpose of driving out the 
demon supposed to be the cause of disease and bodily 
suffering. An elaborate exorcising ritual was devel- 
oped by the priests of Eridu which continued to be 
down through the period of the Assyrian empire the 
model and prototype for all other methods of healing 
disease. The sick man was sprinkled with holy water, 
and various other rites, symbolizing the hoped for re- 
lief from the clutches of the demons or supposed to act 
directly on the demons, were performed in the name 
of Ea/ 


Ea stands in a particularly close relation to the god 
who with the rise of the city of Babylon as the political 
centre becomes the head of the pantheon — Marduk. 
The latter is invariably designated as the son of Ea, 
and since Marduk *s sanctuary at Babylon bears the 
same name, E-sagila ("the lofty house"), as that of 
Ea at Eridu, we are perhaps justified in concluding 
that the settlement of Babylon itself is an offshoot of 
Eridu. Marduk is originally a solar deity like Ami, 
Ninib, Shamash and NergaL Aa such he may very 
well have been worshipped at Erid he side of 

Ea until his cult was transferred to Babylon. But 
however we are to explain the association of Ea with 
Marduk, the relationship of father and son point* * 
dependence of the latter upon the former, and 
ence of so decided a character that, although V 
comes to be the lord over gods and mankind, he never 



ceases to acknowledge Ea's priority, even though in 
the religious literature the honor of Marduk is pro- 
tected by representing Ea as rejoicing in the supreme 
position attained by his well-beloved son. So in the 
incantation texts, when the appeal is made to Marduk 
to release the sufferer from the grasp of the demons, 
Marduk, the dutiful son, goes to his father, Ea, and 
asks what can be done for the sufferer. Ea invariably 

"My son, what dost thou not know that I could tell theef 
What I know, thou also knowest. M l * 


In this manner, the way is paved for the applica- 
tion of the Eridu ritual, but through Marduk Ea's 
authorship is acknowledged, and at the same time 
Marduk 's equality with his father is indicated. Mar- 
duk owes his position in the pantheon to the union 
of the Euphratean states definitely brought about by 
Hanunurapi (c. 2120 B.C.), as a consequence of which 
Babylon becomes the political capital of the kingdom, 
setting aside for all times the prerogatives formerly 
enjoyed by Nippur, Uruk, Eridu, Lagash, Kish, Sip- 
par, Ur or any of the other centres of the Euphrates 
Valley. Even Enlil must yield some of his prestige 
to Marduk. Naturally, Enlil retains his position as 
the second member of the triad, but Enlil transfers of 
his own accord the headship of the pantheon to Mar- 
duk* He is represented as doing this at the close of a 
tale in which Marduk 's triumph over a monster, 
Tiamat, symbolizing the primeval chaos, is described 
in detail. 56 All the gods assemble to celebrate Marduk *s 
great deed. They bestow fifty glorious names upon 
him, the names symbolizing the attributes of Marduk, 
on whom, as the head of the pantheon, the qualities of 

64 This conversation occurs again and again in the incantation 
rituals, e.g., Cun, Texts, xvi, PL 20, 128-138; 45, 119-148; xvii, 
PL 12, 20-31; 19, 31 ; 21, 118-142; 26, 48-63, etc. 

65 See below, p. 442. 


all the gods and goddesses grouped around him as the 
courtiers gather around the royal throne are thus 
heaped. Enlil steps forward and bestows his name 
as "lord" upon Marduk. The bestowal of the name, 
according to the prevalent view in antiquity, carries 
with it the power and position of the one bearing it. 
The god Ea follows Enlil 's example, and thus without 
a conflict the rule passes to Marduk. 

The ritual of Nippur is carried over to a large extent 
to Babylon, with additions so as to adapt it to the cult of 
Marduk. Instead of the "word" of Enlil, that of Mar- 
duk is celebrated. The "lord of lands" is no longer Enlil 
but Marduk who becomes the belli or Baal par excellence 
to such a degree that Bel becomes a common designa- 
tion of a god, passing beyond the confines of Babylonia 
to other countries. "There is no god like Marduk" 
is the burden of the many hymns in honor of the god 
that have fortunately been preserved for us. So we 
read in a text found at Sippar," 

"Mighty lord of gods, Btrong Marduk, 
Counsellor, beloved of Ea, of all pervading command, 
Before his mighty command the great Igigi &T bow ; 
(In thy I) holy chamber the Anunnaki bow before thee; 
Lord of all below, merciful one, producer of fertility, 
Guardian of sacrifices for the gods, founder of cities, 
Guide of the sources, opener of fountains, 
Lord of lands, king of heaven and earth, granting prosperity, 
God without whom in the depth the fate of mankind is not deter- 
Thou lookest on the habitations of the wicked and destroyest their 

What god in heaven or earth is like to thee ? 
Supreme art thou over all gods ; 
Among the gods, thy counsel prevails; 
Thou art superior to Ea, the father who produced thee." 

"Scheil, Une Saison de FouUles £ Sippar (Cairo, 1902) pp. 

iT A collective name, like Anunnaki, for a series of minor deities. 


The hymn may well have been originally a com- 
position in honor of Ea, composed for his cult at Eridu 
and then recast so as to adapt it to Marduk, with the 
express purpose of emphasizing the transfer of Ea's 
attributes to the head of the pantheon, who, although 
the son of Ea, becomes, as the hymn declares, superior 
to his father. 

It is interesting to compare this hymn with one 5 * in 
which in a similar manner descriptions belonging to 
Enlil as the sbomi-god and whose "word" is heard in 
the roar of the thunder are transferred to Marduk. 

11 Who can escape thy gaze? 
Thy word is a great net stretching over heaven and earth ; 
It encloses the sea, and the sea is stirred up, 
It encloses the marsh, and the marsh groans, 
It encloses the billows of the Euphrates. 
The word of Marduk troubles the river bed(T). 
Lord, thou art supreme, who is like unto thee? 
Marduk, among all the great gods thou art supreme." 

The net is a metaphor for the storm which sweeps 
along in fury. The description fits a storm-god but is 
hardly appropriate for a solar deity, such as Marduk 
is. In the descriptions of Enlil 's "word" of which a 
specimen has been given above,™ the same picture of 
a great, all encompassing net is introduced. There 
is no reason to question that the hymn in question also 
represents such a modification of an old composition 
in honor of Enlil, intentionally made to emphasize that 
Marduk has usurped the place of the older head of the 

In a large proportion of the hymns to Marduk that 
have been preserved, these two aspects of the god — 
his functions derived from Ea and those transferred 
from Enlil — are prominently dwelled upon and indeed 
to such an extent as to overshadow his original role as 
a solar deity. Anu is also associated with Enlil and 

» Rawlinson IV 2 PI. 26, No. 4, 
" P. 195. 


Ea, in according to Marduk supremacy over the gods 
so that all three figures of the triad combine in doing 
homage to him, A particularly impressive hymn to 
Marduk 80 begins as follows : 

**I pay homage to thy came, Marduk, the strong one of the gods, 

the ruler of heaven and earth, 
Glorious being, who alone is supreme, 
Thou possessest the power of Anu, the power of Enlil, the power of 

Ea — rulerBhip and majesty, 
Thou art in control of all wisdom, perfect in strength, 
Circumspect counsellor, lofty ruler, powerful and mighty, 
Whose rule Ami praised as a preparation for the conflict.* 1 
In heaven thou art supreme, on earth thou rulest, wise counsellor 

(of the gods), 
Pounder of all settlements, who holds the ends of the starry heavens 

in his grasp. ' ' 

The hymn ends in a direct appeal to the god for 
divine grace and long life. 

"I implore thee, mighty, powerful lord, may thy enangercd heart 

he appeased, thy stirred up liver be quieted, 02 
Have mercy, let me live in fear of thee, ruler of the gods, supreme 

The splendor of Sarpanit, thy great consort, wife of En-bilulu, 6a 

daughter-in-law of Ea. 
I will glorify, the son of Mummu" will I humbly glorify forever." 

The humble petitioner who has felt the anger of his 
god is no doubt, as in most of the hymns, the king 
himself, Some misfortune has come over the land or 

•° Craig, Assyrian-Babylonian Religious Texts, I PI., 29-31. 

ai An allusion to Marduk 's conflict which Tiamat to which he is 
encouraged by Anu who declares that Marduk alone can overthrow 
the monster. Set below p. 433 seq. 

n Heart and liver are in this way very frequently combined, 
the heart as the seat of the intellect, and the liver as the seat of the 

•* A title of Marduk. 

•*A personification of the watery deep and here used as a 
designation of Ea. The son of Mununu is, therefore, Marduk. See 
p. 428. 


over the royal house, and in a penitent spirit the king 
seeks out the divine throne for forgiveness. This 
attitude of the king, setting the example for the people, 
is further illustrated by the prayers to Marduk which 
we find in considerable number attached to royal in- 
scriptions, particularly those of the neo-Babylonian 

In eloquent and impassioned terms the great 
Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nebopolassar, addresses his 
god upon ascending the throne of his father. 85 

*'0, eternal ruler, lord of the universe, grant that the name of 
the king whom thou lovest, whose name thou hast proclaimed, 
flourish as may be pleasing to thee. Lead him in the right path. I 
am the prince who is subservient to thee, the creature of thy hand. 
Thou hast created me and thou hast entrusted the rule of mankind 
to me. According to thy mercy, O lord, which thou bestowest upon 
all, may thy supreme rulership be merciful. The fear of thy 
divinity implant in my heart. Grant me what may seem good to 
thee, for thou art the one who has granted me life. M 

Such prayers, 66 beautiful and simple in diction and 
filled with a deep religious fervor, show us the religion 
of Babylonia at its best. The spirit of humility and 
reverence does not fall short of the attitude towards 
Yahweh in the Psalms, and the conception of Marduk 
rises to a height of spiritual aspiration which comes to 
us as a surprise in a religion that remained steeped in 
polytheism and that was associated with practices and 
rites of a much lower order of thought. 

Marduk, as the supreme god, naturally assumes the 
role of creator of the universe, and the creation mark- 
ing the beginning of the calculation of time, Marduk 's 
festival is coincident with the new year. This festival 
which, as we have seen, 67 was celebrated at Nippur in 
honor of "Nimb and Gula, and at Lagash was sacred to 

•» RawUnson I, PL 53, Col. I, 55-11, 1. 

« For further specimens see Jastrow, Religion Babyloniens und 
Assyriens, l f pp. 400-420, and below pp. 465-469. 
"Above, p. 199. 


Ningirsu and Bau, becomes in Babylon the season dedi- 
cated to Marduk. In its developed form the New 
Year's festival of Babylon extended over eleven days 
with special rites for each day. The transition motif 
was also carried over from ancient days, as shown in 
the current conception which represents Marduk sitting 
in a sacred chamber, surrounded by the other members 
of the pantheon and detennining the fate of individuals 
for the coming year. This point of view lent a sombre 
aspect to the New Year's festival. The statue of the 
god in E-sagila was carried in solemn procession to the 
special shrine which contained the u chamber of fates" 
as it was called, and at the close of the conclave of the 
gods was brought back to its resting place, accompanied 
as accorded with his dignity by the images of the other 
great gods. 

The process involved in the absorption of the roles 
and attributes of other gods which we have noted in the 
case of Enlil, Ninib and Shamash appears to have gone 
to even greater lengths in the case of Marduk, who is 
addressed in terms which give one the impression as 
though he were the one and only deity. The mono- 
theistic strain in the prayers and hymns addressed to 
Marduk is sometimes so pronounced that if one sub- 
stitutes Yahweh or God for Marduk, they might form 
part of a Jewish or Christian service of to-day. A god 
on whom the other gods bestow fifty names 08 is well 
advanced on the way to become the one and only power, 
as the source of all the phenomena of nature. 

Still, the limitations of the monotheistic tendency 
in Babylonia must be recognized. Not only do the 
other gods of the pantheon continue to receive recog- 
nition in their temples and sanctuaries scattered 
throughout the land, but neither Babylonians nor 
Assyrians ever passed beyond the point of regarding 
gods as personifications of powers of nature. Marduk, 

too, remains on this jasis. 

See above, p. 212 and below, p, 443. 


Just as Marduk is invariably associated with Ea as 
his father, so another deity, Nairn, whose name we have 
already encountered is closely attached to Marduk as 
his son. Like all the other gods of Babylonia, Nabu 
starts on his career as a local patron. He belongs to 
the city of Borsippa, lying in such close proximity to 
Babylon on the west bank of the Euphrates as to be- 
come, with the extension of Babylon, almost a suburb 
of the latter. It is this close relationship between the 
two cities that finds an expression in making Nabu the 
son of Marduk. There are reasons, however, for be- 
lieving that Borsippa rose to importance earlier than 
Babylon, and that for some time Nabu was a serious 
rival to Marduk. The original character of the deity 
of Borsippa is still in doubt, but indications point to 
his being originally a water-god — perhaps the water- 
spirit in the Euphrates — and as such he would natu- 
rally become also a god of vegetation, since the fertility 
of the land is dependent upon the overflow of the ri\ 
during the rainy season. The association of water with 
knowledge and culture which, we have seen, 09 domin; 
the views held in regard to Ea would account for the 
chief trait of Nabu as revealed in inscriptions and in 
the religious literature, to wit, his role as the god of 
writing more particularly and then in general as the 
god who gives understanding and wisdom. His symbol 
is the stylus of the scribe. He is the secretary of the 
gods who, at the time of the New Year's assembly of 
the pantheon when the fates of individuals are deter- 
mined for the coming year, records the decisions of the 
gods* It is he who inspires the priests to collect the 
hymns, ineantations, omens and other parts of the 
ritual as a guide for further ages. Secular wisdom is 
also due to him, Writing is his invention communi- 
cated to mankind, and Ashurbanapal in the .subscripts 
to the tablets of his royal library rarely fails to ac- 
knowledge the aid of Nabu and of his consort, Tashmit, 
•• Above, p. 210, 


as the ones who inspired the ruler with the idea of 
collecting the literary productions of the past. The 
close association with Marduk leads naturally to a 
similarity in the tennis in which they are addressed, 
but the distinctive character of Nabu as the god of 
writing on whose tablets one can read the future is 
rarely omitted even in the prayers of late Babylonian 
rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, where Nabu is generally 
invoked only in connection with his father. A prayer 
of this ruler on the completion of the tower attached 
to Nabu's temple at Borsippa reads as follows: 70 

"Oh Nabu, legitimate son, 71 sublime messenger, triumphant, be- 
loved of Marduk, graciously look in joy on my handiwork. Long 
life, numerous progeny, a firmly established throne, enduring rule, 
conquest of the enemy's land grant me m a gift ! On thy unchange- 
able tablet which marks the bounds of heaven and earth, proclaim 
length of days for me, inscribe offspring (for me) 5 Before Marduk, 
the king of heaven and earth, the father who produced thee, make 
my deeds pleasing, intercede on my behalf and proclaim that Nebu- 
chadnezzar is indeed a king who beautifies." 

The tablet of Nabu is the starry expanse on which 
the future is written for him who can read the signs 
in the heavens- Nabu, however, is merely the recorder 
of the decision which rests with Marduk. 

This close association of Nabu with Marduk finds 
many other expressions both in the cult and in the 
religious literature. Babylon and Boisippa were com- 
bined so as to form practically a single conception in 
the minds of priests and populace. The one could 
hardly be thought of without the other. In Babylon, 
shrines and sanctuaries to the leading members of the 
pantheon were grouped around the central temple, 
E-sagila, as was done in earlier days at Nippur, 72 
where E-kur, the temple of Enlil, grew to be the desig- 
nation of the sacred quarter of the city. 

n Rawlinson I, PI. 51, No. 1, CoL II, 16-31. 
n Sc. of Marduk. 
" Above, p. 196. 


In the official correspondence it became customary 
to introduce in the greeting with which the letters be- 
gan the names of Marduk and Nabu, and similarly in 
historical inscriptions the two names were constantly 
entwined. Indeed it would appear that at times at- 
tempts were made to play off the one god against the 
other. It is probably not accidental that three of the 
rulers of the neo-Babylonian empire 73 bear names com- 
pounded with Nabu, and it looks as though the founder 
of this dynasty wished to place the son on an equality 
with the father. Cyrus, who overthrew this empire, 
claims to have come to Babylon to reinstate Marduk 
in his full dignity. In Assyria, where Marduk was re- 
garded as in a manner the rival of Ashur, the head of 
the Assyrian pantheon, we find the kings disposed to 
pay their homage to the son rather than to the father 
as the chief figure of the Babylonian pantheon. An 
official of one of these kings, Adad-nirari IV (810-782 
B.C.), erects a statue to Nabu and inscribes on it: T4 

"0 offspring, rely on Nabu. Pnt your trust in no other god." 

Ashurbanapal, the greatest of the Assyrian kings 
(668-626 B.C.), is among those who pay homage to 
Nabu in a manner which betrays the tendency to make 
him more than a mere appendage to Marduk. 

It is interesting to note that the cult of Nabu (as 
that of Marduk) survives the fall of the Babylonian 
empire and even the substitution of Greek governors 
for the Persian rule. We have a prayer of the Seleucid 
ruler, Antiochus Soter (281-261 B.C.), addressed to 
Nabu on the occasion of that ruler's restoration of 
Nabu's temple, E-zida, at Borsippa. The prayer, 
though modelled upon those of the rulers of the neo- 
Babylonian dynasty, is nevertheless of sufficient in- 
terest to warrant an extract here. 75 

78 See above, p. 182, seq. 

'* Rawlinson I, PI. 35, No. 2, line 12. 

Ti Rawlinson V, PL 66, Col. I, 16-11, 29. 


**0 Nabu, sublime son, mighty lord of the great gods, whom to 
praise seems meet, first-born son of Marduk, offspring of Erua, 7e 
the queen, creator, look in joy! At thy supreme unchangeable 
command which has brought about my victory over the enemy, 
grant a just kingdom, an auspicious rule, years of prosperity, 
plentiful progeny to the kingdom of Antiochus and of Seleucus, 
his son. 

By thy supreme stylus which fixes the bounds of heaven and 
earth, through thy glorious utterance may my salvation be pro- 
claimed. May my hands conquer the lands from sunrise to sun- 
set, 77 compel their tribute in order to complete E-sagila and E-zida. 
O Nabu, royal son, upon thy entering into thy legitimate temple, 78 
proclaim favor for Antiochus, the king of (all) lands, for the king 
Seleucus, his son, and for the queen Stratonike.' * 

Even in this late composition Nabu is still the scribe 
who writes down the decrees of the gods. The king is 
careful also to drag in Marduk and his temple, and as 
an interesting new touch he includes in his prayer his 
son, associated presumably with the father in the gov- 
ernment, and his queen. 


We have still to consider one of the most notable 
figures of the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon, one 
whose cult assumed great prominence in the earliest 
days to which we can trace back the history of the 
country with which we are concerned, and who re- 
tained his position despite all political and social vicis- 
situdes, throughout all changes in religious thought 
down to the disappearance of the Babylonian-Assyrian 
civilization — the moon-god, Sin. There were chiefly 
two centres of Sin worship in Babylonia, one at Ur in 
the extreme south, and the other at Harran in the north. 

7S A title of Sarpanit, the consort of Marduk, 

77 I.e., from east to west 

"With an allusion to the name of Nabu's temple, E-zida, "the 

legitimate house." 



the older and 


The former of these two 
more important. By the side of Sin, the moon-god 
also bears a name, Nannar, which designates him as a 
"luminary." In Sumerian the name is written with 
two signs, En-zu, which describes him as the "lord 
of knowledge" and of which Sin — divided into Si-in — 
may be a derivative by an inversion of the two syllables, 
which is not uncommon.™ These two qualities, as a 
light-giving power and as a god of wisdom, are the two 
traits of Sin most prominently dwelt upon in votive 
and historical inscriptions and in religious texts. In 
the art,* the moon-god is represented as an old man 
with a flowing beard, with the moon's crescent as his 
symbol. On the so-called Boundary Stones, 81 the cres- 
cent alone is used for the moon, as the circle with 
numerous rays stands for the sun. The horns sug- 
gested by the moon's crescent were probably a factor 
in representing him also figuratively as a bull, and a 
frequent epithet given to him is "the young bullock of 
Enlil, " which illustrates also the endeavor to associate 
him with the old Babylonian pantheon grouped around 
the god of Nippur. The crescent also suggests a bark, 
and in very old invocations he is pictured as sailing 
across the heavens in a bark. One of these reads in 
part as follows : 82 

"In the resplendent bark of heaven, self-appointed ruler, 

Father Nannar, lord of Ur, 

Father Nannar, lord of E-gishshirgal, M 

Father Nannar, lord of Namrasit, 8 * 

Lord Nannar, first-born son of Enlil, 

As thou sailest along, as thou sail est along, 

*• So we have Zu-ab, *' house of knowledge," becoming apsxi. 
60 See Plate LXXVII, Fig. 2. 
§I See p. 416, scq. 

n Cun, Texts, XV, PL 17, and Reisner, Sumcriseh-Babyloniscke 
Hymnen, No. 38. 

•" Name of Sin's temple in Ur. 

" "Rising in light/' an epithet of the moon-god. 


In the presence of thy father, in the presence of Enlil, thou art 

Father Nannar, thou art ruler, thou art leader, 
In the hark riding through the heavens, — thou art ruler. ' ' 

In this maimer the litany proceeds, the lines of 
which are evidently intended to be chanted by a leader 
and chorus alternatively, or by two choruses of priests. 
Though Sin or Nannar is constantly addressed as 
father in his capacity as the chief luminary in the 
starry heavens, the endeavor is clearly made to bring 
him into association with Enlil whose first-born son 
he is therefore declared to be, and in the course of the 
process of the incorporation of the Sin cult into that 
centring around Enlil, the "word" which we have 
seen is the specific quality of the chief god of Nippur 
in his role of a storm deity is likewise transferred to 
Nannar t as it was transferred to Marduk, to Shamash, 
to Ea and in fact to all the chief figures of the pantheon, 
quite independently of their original character. 


A totally different god is Adad, the storm-god, who 
is represented as brandishing the thunderbolt and 
hurling the lightning. Adad is a counterpart of Enlil, 
but, unlike the latter, who, as we have seen, takes on 
other traits, Adad or Ramnian ("the thunderer"), as 
he was also called, retains his forbidding character of 
a god who when he manifests himself does so because 
his wrath has been aroused. Gods as well as men stand 
in terror of Adad as is well brought out in one of the 
hymns to him. 85 

"When the lord is enraged, the heavens tremble before him, 
When Adad is enangered, the earth quakes before him. 
Great mountains are east down before him. 
At his auger, at his wrath, 
At his roar, at his thunder, 

89 Rawliuson IV 2 PL 28, No. 2. 


The gods of heaven retire into the heavens, 
The gods of earth recede into the earth, 
The sun passes into the foundation of heaven, 
The moon disappears into the zenith of heaven." 

He is the destroyer who sweeps across "the heavens, 
the land and the waters*' as we read in another invoca- 
tion to him. When the gods decide to bring on a 
deluge, it is Adad who is the chief executive of the 
divine decree. 

But just because of his power and his violence, the 
attempt is made to gain his favor. When the storm 
ceases, the rainbow appears in the sky and the sun 
comes out from the clouds, it is a sign that Adad has 
been reconciled. Applying the association to human 
conditions, sickness, loss of life, destruction of crops, 
as a result of storms lead king and subjects to appeal 
to Adad's mercy, if happily they can arouse it. It is 
hoped that the god may feel flattered by being ad- 
dressed as merciful and forgiving. So in a series of 
invocations to Adad we actually read : 88 

*' Merciful one among the (great) gods, 
I have directed my thoughts to thee, I implore thee humbly ( T) 
Be merciful, O lord, hear my prayer, 
Destroy my enemies, drive away my opponents, 
May the poison, poison, poison of the sorcerers not touch me, 
Have mercy and proclaim grace for me. 11 

While Adad is also brought into association with 
the Nippur pantheon and with that grouped around 
Marduk, he is to a larger extent than the other mem- 
bers of the pantheon an independent figure. This may 
be due to the fact that so far as our material enables 
us to judge, he is not brought into connection with any 
important political centre. In this respect he marks a 
decided exception. He impresses one as an intruder 
whose cult may have been brought to the Euphrates 
Valley from the north, for in Assyria we find one of 

•• King, ib., No, 21, lines 61-66. 


the oldest temples dedicated to Anu and Adad — Anu as 
the old solar deity, afterwards replaced in Assyria by 
Ashur, 87 and Adad the storm-god. 

There is still another phase of the cult of Adad to 
be briefly considered. He is a god of oracles and in 
this capacity is invariably associated with the sun-god, 
Shamash. In addition to divining the future through 
reading the signs in the heavens at night— in the moon, 
planets, stars, and constellations — the phenomena ob- 
served in the sun and those seen in storms, hurricanes, 
clouds, rain, thunder, lightning and earthquakes were 
gathered into an elaborate system, supplemental to 
astrology proper. 88 The deities presiding over these 
phases of divination are naturally Shamash and Adad, 
who therefore become, as the "lords of divination," 
oracle gods, frequently designated as such in the in- 
scriptions of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers. 

It is as a further reflex of astrology and supple- 
mental forms of divination that by the side of the com- 
bination of Shamash and Adad into a duality, we have a 
triad, Sin, Shamash and Adad, very frequently appear- 
ing in invocations attached to votive and historical in- 
scriptions as well as in religious texts, by the side of 
the greater triad Anu, Enlil and Ea. 89 As the latter 
symbolize the three cliief divisions of the universe — 
heaven, earth and water — so the second triad sum up 
the chief manifestations of nature, the sun which con- 
ditions vegetation, the moon standing for the entire 
starry heaven, and the storm with all its accompany- 
ing phenomena, rain, floods, thunder, lightning, earth- 
quakes and all other abnormal occurrences, more or 
less directly connected with the activity of the storm- 

There are, however, two elements of nature not 

BT See below, p. 229. 

■* See, for details, Jastrow, Religion Babylonians und Assyriens, 
II, p. 577-612 and 705-748, and also below p. 262, seq. 
99 See above, p. 208. 



represented in this triad, the earth itself and fire. As 
to fire, this element appears to have been in part asso- 
ciated with the sun and with lightning, and in part to 
have been looked upon as an independent force. Both 
views come to the surface, but of the two the latter may 
be regarded as the more popular belief, while the 
derivation of fire from the sun and from lightning 
assumes a point of view of a more speculative char- 
acter. Among all peoples of antiquity we find fire 
looked upon as a separate element, in the possession of 
the gods to be sure, but not identified with any par- 
ticular one, not even with the sun-god. 

The fire-god appears under various designations, 
Gibil — also written in the reversed form, Bil-ge — 
Girru, Gisbbar, Ishum and Nusku — the la»tter designa- 
tion being the common one in Assyria. We do not find 
in connection with any of these names a special place 
selected as the centre of the cult, and this is quite what 
we should expect in the case of a god who does not 
represent a personification of a specific power of 
nature like the sun, moon, the water or the earth, for 
fire is to be found everywhere, on the earth and in the 
heaven and even within the bowels of the earth. The 
fire-god is a free lance as it were who, however, per- 
forms service for both gods and mankind. He is ap- 
propriately termed therefore the "messenger of the 
gods." Of the actual cult of the fire-god we learn little. 
His chief function is in connection with incantation 
rites to drive off the evil demons. As a sacred element, 
the fire is regarded like water as a purifying element. 
Hence by the side of a water ritual, associated as we 
have seen primarily with the god Ea, we have a fire 
ritual which consists of such ceremonies as burning 
images, made of various materials, of the sorcerer or 
sorceress by whose direct intervention some victim has 
been bewitched, or consigning to the fire such objects as 
onions, dates, palm blossoms, seeds or bits of wool to 
the accompaniment of magic formulas emphasizing the 


hope that as these materials are consumed, so the 
demons as the cause of the disease and suffering may 
be consumed or forced by the heat to abandon their 
victim.™ All this falls within the category of sympa- 
thetic magic, involving a symbolical action to bring 
about the reality. Thus we have two series of incanta- 
tion rituals which, because of the prominence given to 
fire in the rites, are known as "Maklu" and "Shurpu" 
— both terms having the force of u burning M or con- 
sumption through fire. Hymns to Nusku, illustrating 
the current conceptions in regard to him, are inter- 
spersed in these rituals. One of these reads as 
follows : 91 

1 ' Nusku, great god, prince of the great gods, 
Guardian of the offerings of all Igigi, 
Founder of cities, renewer of sanctuaries, 
Resplendent deity, whose command is supreme, 
Messenger of Anu, earning out the decrees of Enlil, 
Obedient to Enlil, prince, leader of the strong Igigi, 
Mighty in battle, whose attack is powerful, 
Nusku, consumer, conqueror of enemies, 
Without thee no sacrificial meal is given in the temple, 
Without thee the great gods do not inhale any sweet smelling 

Without thee Shaoiash, the judge, does not make a decision." M 

But the fire is also the indispensable aid to man in 
his advance along the path of civilization. The bricks 
for the construction of houses, temples and walls are 
burnt in the fire, the metals are tempered through the 
sacred element, and so in almost all the operations of 
man the fire is his faithful ally. Nusku is therefore 
hailed as the founder of cities, through whom sanctu- 

" See specimens in Jastrow, Religion Babylonien* und Auyriem, 

I, p. 305, $eq., and 328, seq. 

m Tallqvist, Die Assyrische Beschworungsseri* Maqlu, II, 1-1 L 
•* Referring to offerings in connection with securing an oracle 

from the sun-god. 



aries are built and renewed. The fire associated with 
Shamash becomes like the latter the judge to whom 
the appeal for a just decision is made. So in the 
formulae accompanying the symbolical burning of a 
bronze image of the sorcerer or sorceress, Nusku is 
apostrophized as " 

"Mighty fire-god, awe-inspiring glow, 94 
Guiding gods and princes, 

Judging the cruel one and the wicked woman,* 8 
Step forward to my cause like Shamash, the warrior, 
Judge my cause, proclaim my decision, 
Burn the sorcerer and the sorceress, 
Destroy my enemies, censure my opponents, 
May thy raging glow come upon them!" 

We have several times had occasion to point out 
the dependence of Assyria upon Babylonia, extending 
to all aspects of Assyrian civilization though we must 
not lose sight of some additions made to Babylonian 
culture by the northern empire, or of the modifications 
introduced by Assyria in what she took over from the 
south. In the case of the pantheon we have only one 
striking figure, embodying the spirit of Assyria and 
who represents an entirely original contribution — the 
god Ashur. We now know that the city bearing the 
name Ashur on the site of which successful and most 
thorough excavations have been carried on for the 
past fifteen years, 00 represents the oldest capital of the 
northern kingdom, and that in fact from Ashur as a 
centre Assyria begins to extend her dominion about 2000 
B.C., though the settlements in the north by migrations 
from the south as well as through incursions from the 
northwest are to be carried back to a much earlier 

" Maqlu II, 114-121. 

"Literally M day." 

•• I.e., the sorcerer and sorceress. 

•• See above, p. 55, scq. 


period. The name of the god being dependent upon 
that of the city, Ashur is thus the god of the city of 
Ashur. The original solar character follows from the 
common symbol of the god, a reproduction of the solar 
disc, frequently with the rays of the sun clearly in- 
dicated.* 7 He is addressed also in hymns and invoca- 
tions in terms which betray the original conception, 
though this trait is naturally overshadowed by the 
supreme position accorded in Assyria to Ashur, who, 
taking the place assigned to Marduk in the south, be- 
comes like the latter the creator of everything, the ruler 
of gods as well as of all mankind. At the dedication 
of an image of Ashur made at the instance of King 
Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), the king addresses his god 
as f ollows : 98 

"To Ashur, the king of the totality of the gods, Mb own creation, 

father of the gods, 
Whose power is unfolded in the deep, king of heaven and earth, 
Lord of all gods, controller of the Igigi and Anunnaki, M 
Creator of the heaven of Anu and of the world below, creator of 

Dwelling in the resplendent heavens, Enlil 10 ° of the gods, deter- 

miner of fates, 
Dwelling in E-sharra in Ashur — for his lord, Sennacherib, King of 

Assyria, has made an image of Ashur. ' ' 

The god who dwells in the heavens is a solar deity 
like Anu himself was, as we have seen. Naturally, 
Ashur takes on the traits also of Marduk. The role of 
creator is transferred by virtue of national pride from 
Marduk to Ashur. As the universal creator, Ashur 
controls the deep as well as the heavens. He is Anu, 

• T See Plate XXXIII, Figs. 2 and 3, and Plate XXXII, above 
the tree of life. 

88 Craig, Assyrian and Babylonian Religious Texts, I, PI. 83. 

M The gTOup designation for the minor order of heavenly and 
earthly deities. 

100 In the sense of ' c supreme lord. ' ' 


Bnlil, and Ea thrown into one. The process towards 
concentrating all divine attributes in one being is car- 
ried to even further lengths in Assyria than in Baby- 
lonia, for Marduk is always associated with Ea as the 
father and with Nabu as the son. Ashur stands entirely 
alone in his majesty. Representing the spirit of As- 
syria which was so intensely martial as to make her 
at one time the greatest military power of the ancient 
world, Ashur naturally becomes primarily a warrior. 
The artists of Assyria yield to this influence and spoil 
the beautiful symbol of the god by placing a warrior 
with bow and arrow within the solar disc. Without 
this addition, the disc might indeed have become a 
symbol of a spiritualized power, as the swastika and 
tie cross became. For the rulers, more particularly, 
Ashur is merely the warrior whose standard is carried 
into the midst of the battle field so as to ensure the 
presence and aid of the god. "By the might of Ashur" 
is the standing phrase in the votive and historical in- 
scriptions of Assyrian kings. It is Ashur who mows 
down the enemies, who burns and pillages cities, who 
captures the women and children, and who spreads the 
misery and desolation incident to bloody warfare. 

As Ashur reflects the genius and spirit of Assyria, 
so the god follows the varying fortunes of the country. 
With the transfer of the capital to Calah and thence to 
Nineveh, the centre of Ashur 's cult shifts to the 
political stronghold. Wherever the longs reside, there 
is Ashur *s seat; and when the king himself leads the 
military exploits, Ashur follows. Ashur is not bound 
to a definite centre like his two older rivals. He and 
Assyria become synonymous terms in a sense which 
never applied to Marduk. He becomes the lord or 
Bel, par excellence, who has nothing to fear from any 
possible rival. A centralizing tendency arises more 
pronounced than previous endeavors in this direction, 
and without disturbing the time-honored traditions 
that grew up around Nippur, Sippar, Uruk, Cuthah, 


Eridu and other sites. Nineveh as the capital of 
Assyria rises to a supremacy equal to the rank acquired 
by Ashur himself — unsurpassed in majesty, without a 
rival in power and glory. 


We have thus passed in review the chief figures of 
the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon and in the course 
of this review have endeavored to show the close asso- 
ciation between the conceptions formed of the gods and 
the course of political development in the south and 
the north. We have seen how as a consequence of this 
association solar gods, moon gods, storm gods and 
•water gods lose their original character by having 
attributes given to them which are intended to sym- 
bolize the supremacy they assumed because of the 
political prestige acquired by the centres in which they 
were worshipped. Attempts are made in earlier and 
later periods to specify the relationship of the great 
gods to one another and also to the minor local deities. 
A pantheon arises with Enlil as the head which is sub- 
sequently replaced by another with Marduk taking the 
rank of Enlil, while in Assyria, Ashur eclipses both 
Enlil and Marduk. Gradually, a selection out of the 
large number of local deities is made. The pantheon 
takes on a more definite shape. The hundreds of minor 
gods fade into the background, becoming merely desig- 
nations or attributes of the more important gods, or are 
placed in lists drawn up by the priests in the relation 
of members of the household, — relatives, servants, 
officials— of a great god. Through a process reflecting 
the speculations in the temple schools, a triad is evolved, 
consisting of Anu, Enlil and Ea, dividing among them- 
selves the three parts of the universe — heaven, earth 
and water. A second triad is placed by the side of this 
one, summing up the chief manifestations of divine 
power in the universe, Sin (the moon), Shamash (the 
sun) and A dad (the storm, including water). In the 



case of each triad, a fourth figure is often added, 2v 
lil, originally the consort of Enlil, or Nin-makh ("the 
great lady") to the first, and Belit ("the lady") or 
Ishtar to the second — both, however, symbolizing the 
female element which, fructified by the male, is the 
indispensable complement to the production of life, 
vegetation, fertility and all blessings that go with the 
never ending process of vitality, growth, decay and re- 
generation in nature. This leads us to a consideration, 
before leaving the pantheon, of one notable female 
figure, the great mother-goddess, frequently identified 
with the earth viewed as a fruitful mother but who 
should rather be regarded in a still wider sense as the 
mother of all that manifests life, embracing therefore 
the life in man and the animal world as well as in the 
fields and mountains in nature in general. 

This natural association of a female element as a 
complement to the male one leads to assigning to every 
deity a consort who, however, has no independent ex- 
istence. So Enlil has at his side Nin-lil, Ninib has 
Gm\ ("the great one"), Ningirsu has Bau, Shamash 
has A, Sin has Nin-gul, Nergal has Laz, Anu a female 
counterpart An turn, to Ea a consort Shala ("the 
woman") is given, to Marduk, Sarpanit or Nin-makh 
("the great lady"), to Nabu, Tashmit ("obedience 
while Ashur's consort appears as Nin-lil or Belit and 
at times as Ishtar. All these figures with the single 
exception of Ishtar are merely shadowy reflections of 
their male masters, playing no part in the cult outside 
of receiving homage in association with their male 
partners, Ishtar, however, although assimilated in the 
Assyrian pantheon to the consort of Ashur, is an in- 
dependent figure, who has her own temples and her 
distinct cult, She appears under a variety of names 
— Nana, Innina, Irnini, Ninni, Nina — all of which 
contain an element having the force of "lady," as is 
also the case with Nin-makh and Nin-lil, likewise used 


as epithets of the great mother-goddess. Corre- 
sponding to the Sumerian element, we have in Ak- 
kadian Belit "lady" or "mistress" as one of the gen- 
eric designations of Ishtar. All this confirms the view 
that Ishtar is merely the symbol of the female element 
in the production of life, and that the specific name is 
of secondary significance. The circumstance that Nin- 
lil, the consort of Enlil, is also (though in texts of a 
later period) identified with the mother-goddess would 
seem to show that the female associate of the head of 
the pantheon was always an Ishtar, though in a certain 
sense, as we have seen, the consorts of all the gods 
were Ishtars. 

The oldest cult of the mother goddess, so far as 
our material goes, appears indeed to have been in Uruk 
where she is known as Nana, but we may be quite sure 
that the cult was never limited to one place. The 
special place which Nana has in the old Babylonian 
pantheon is probably due to the peculiar development 
taken by the chief deity of that centre, Anu, who as 
we have seen became an abstraction — the god of heaven, 
presiding over the upper realm of the universe. Her 
temple at Uruk known as E-anna "the heavenly 
house" and revealing the association of the goddess 
with Anu as a solar deity became one of the most 
famous in the Euphrates Valley. It is in connection 
with the cult of Nana that we learn of a phase of the 
worship of the mother-goddess which degenerates into 
the obscene rites that call forth the amazement of 
Herodotus. m As the mother-goddess, Nana or Ishtar 
is not only the source of the fertility displayed by the 
earth and the kind, gracious mother of mankind, but 
also the goddess of love — the Aphrodite of Babylonia. 
The mysterious process of conception and the growth 
of the embryo in the mother's womb gave rise at an 
early period to rites in connection with the cult of the 

m Book I, § 199. 



mother-goddess that symbolized the fructification 
through the combination with the male element. 

There is, however, another side to Ishtar which 
comes particularly to the fore in Assyria, though it is 
also indigenous to Babylonia. She is not only the loving 
mother but, as the protector of her offspring, a war- 
like figure armed for the fray and whose presence is 
felt in the midst of the battle. She appears to her 
favorites in dreams and encourages them to give battle. 
It is she who places in the hands of the rulers the 
weapons with which they march to victory. To Ashur- 
banapal she thus appears armed with bow and arrow 
and reassures him : "Whithersoever thou goest, I go 
with thee." loa As far back as the days of Hammurapi, 
Ishtar is thus viewed as the one who encourages her 
followers for contest and battle. 

Both phases of the goddess, as the gracious mother 
and as the grim Amazon, are dwelt upon in one of the 
finest specimens of the religious literature of Baby- 
lonia in which a penitent sufferer, bowed down with 
sickness and misfortune, implores Ishtar to grant re- 
lief. 108 The hymn is addressed to the goddess of Uruk 
but she has become the general mother-goddess and 
is instead of Nana addressed as Ishtar. Ishtar is 
here identified with the planet Venus and assigned to 
a place therefore in the heavens. As such she is called 
"the daughter of Sin," the moon-god. She is thus the 
daughter of Anu, of Enlil and of Sin at one and the 
same time, a further indication that such epithets 
merely symbolize a relationship to various gods, ac- 
cording to the traits assigned to her. The composition, 
too long to quote entirely, begins: 

101 Cylinder B (ed. Geo. Smith, History of Assurbanapal, p, 
Col. 5, 61-62, Ishtar is frequently represented as goddess of war 
on seal cylinders. See Ward, Seal Cylinders of Western 
(Washington, 1910), Chapter XXV. 

101 King, Seven Tablets of Creation, I, p. 222-237. 


"I pray to thee, mistress of mistresses, goddess of goddesses, 

Ishtar, queen of all habitations, guide of mankind, 

Irnini 10 * praised be thou, greatest among the Igigi 106 

Powerful art thou, ruler art thou, exalted is thy name, 

Thou art the light of heaven and earth, mighty daughter of Sin, 

Thou directest the weapons, arrangest the battle array, 

Thou givest commands, decked with the crown of rulership, 

lady, resplendent is thy greatness, supreme over all gods. 

"Where is thy name not? Where is thy command not? 

Where are images of thee not made? Where are thy shrines not 

WTiere art thou not great? — where not supreme? 
Ann, Enlil and Ea have raised thee to mighty rulership among 

the gods, 
Have raised thee aloft and exalted thy station among all the Igigi. 
At the mention of thy name, heaven and earth quake, 
The gods tremble, the AnunnaM quake. 
To thy awe-inspiring name mankind gives heed, 
Great and exalted art thou ! 
All dark-headed ones, 100 living beings, mankind pay homage to 

thy power. 

1 moan like a dove night and day, 
I am depressed and weep bitterly, 

With woe and pain my liver is in anguish. 

What have I done, my god and my goddess — I ? 

As though I did not reverence my god and my goddess, am I treated. 

I experience, my mistress, dark days, sad months, years of mis- 
fortune.' ' 

As the planet Venus, the movements of Ishtar in 
the heavens form a basis for divining what the future 
has in store. 107 The prominent part taken by the ob- 
servation of Venus-Ishtar in Babylonian-A ssyrian 

104 An epithet of Ishtar. See above, p. 232. 
109 Here used as a general designation of all the gods. 
106 Here used for mankind in general. 

10T See for details, Jastrow, Religion Babyloniens und Assyrkns, 
II, pp. 612-638. 


astrology is reflected in many of the hymns to her. The 
influence of the priestly speculations in thus combin- 
ing the popular animistic conceptions of the gods and 
goddesses with points of view derived from the pro- 
jection of the gods on to the starry heavens is one of 
the features of the religion of Babylonia and Assyria. 
Ishtar under one name or the other becomes a 
favorite subject for myths symbolizing the change of 
seasons, her period of glory when the earth is in full 
bloom being the summer followed by the rainy and 
winter months when nature decays, and which was pic- 
tured as due to the imprisonment of the goddess in the 
nether world. She takes her place in popular tales, 
half legendary and half mythical, and we have a 
number of compositions 108 further illustrating how the 
popular myths and tales were embodied into the cult 

101 See pp. 453-461. 




In the course of discussion of the views held of the 
gods and goddesses, the general features of the religion 
have been revealed, as well as the relation of religious 
beliefs to the course taken by the political fortunes of 
Babylonia and Assyria. A close interdependence be- 
tween the position of the gods and the changing 
political conditions in the Euphrates Valley, needs to 
lie kept in mind as the most important factor, leading 
to a divorce in the conception of the gods from the 
animistic starting-point as the personification of some 
specific power or manifestation of nature. We have 
seen how in the case of such figures as Enlil, Marduk 
and Ashur this process resulted in a tendency towards 
the unification of all such manifestations in a single 
deity. A spiritual impulse is thus given to the view 
of divine government of the universe, the significance 
of which is not diminished by the limitation pointed 
out and which prevented the rise of a genuine mono- 
theism in Babylonia and Assyria. As a reflex of the 
higher point of view such members of the pantheon as 
Shamash, the sun-god, Sin, the moon-god, Ea, the 
water-god, Nabu, originally the god of Borsippa, 
Nusku, the fire-god, and Ishtar, the mother-goddess 
rise far beyond the original animistic level, and be- 
come in a measure symbols of the beneficent influence 
exerted by the powers of nature on man. Ethical traits 
such as mercy, justice, love, forbearance are superim- 
posed on the original attributes of strength and vio- 
lence, at times to such an extent as to obscure the older 
aspects. As a result of this tendency towards giving the 
personifications of powers of nature an ethical import, 
we find increasing prominence given to the thought 




that the gods send sickness, suffering, misfortune, 
drought, pestilence and national catastrophes of a 
larger character, defeat in battle and invasions of the 
country, as a consequence of misdeeds, primarily on the 
part of the riders who stand nearer to the gods than 
the ordinary individual. To be sure, the misdeeds 
grouped together under the general designation of sins, 
may be either of a genuinely ethical character or purely 
ceremonial neglect or even ritualistic errors. While 
this decided limitation in the ethics of Babylonia and 
Assyria which clings to the religion down to the latest 
period must be given due consideration, nevertheless 
it marks a decided step forward to recognize that the 
displeasure or anger of the gods as shown by the pun- 
ishments sent by them is not aroused without some good 
cause, — good naturally from the limited point of view 
here emphasized. All misfortunes are looked upon as 
punishments from angry deities, and the punishment 
itself is the natural and necessary consequence of sin. 
The obvious corollary is that the gods are on the whole 
and ordinarily favorably disposed towards mankind. 
Some are more merciful by nature than others, some 
like, the god Ea are in a special sense the protectors 
of man, revealing to him even the secret counsels of 
the gods, some like Ishtar bewail catastrophes sent 
against mankind by angered deities, but all are open 
to appeals and, it might even be said, prone to mercy 
and inclined to be forgiving. 

A second factor of f imdamental importance for our 
estimate of the religion of Babylonia and Assyria is 
the recognition of the part taken by the endeavors on 
the part of the priests to systematize the current re- 
ligious beliefs, with the result of building up a theo- 
logical system of no small proportions* The most 
prominent outcome of this endeavor was the theory of 
a threefold division of the universe with the assign- 
ment of a deity in control of each. The setting up of 
this triad which may be traced back to the old Baby- 



>nian period marks a further step in |the dissocia- 
tion of the gods from their original limitations. Anu, 
Enlil and Ea become symbols of divine government of 
the universe, and similarly, though not to the same ex- 
tent, the second triad, Shainash, Sin and Adad, sum up 
the chief manifestations of divine power in so far as it 
affects mankind — the sun, the moon and atmospheric 
phenomena, while the addition of a further figure in 
the ease of both triads, Ninlil ■ for the first, and Ishtar 
for the second, symbolizes the female element which 
combines with the male to bring about the renewal of 
nature and the reproduction of animal ami human life. 
While the theoretical constructions perfected in the 
temple schools no doubt exercised a decided influence 
on popular beliefs, yet it is natural to find that the 
masses clung to the traditional animistic conceptions 
of the local deities. To the people, the head of the 

pantheon, whether Enlil, Marduk or Ashur, remained 
the local divine patron; and so in the other centres, 
Shamash, Ea, Sin, Nefbu, Nergal as the case may be, 
remained on the level of personifications of powers of 
nature, attached as protecting spirits to the locality in 
question. The larger and higher point of view comes 
to the fore in the hymns and prayers which are dis- 
tinctly the product of the priests of the temple schools, 
but the very circumstance that they are in most cases 
attached as introductions to pure incantation formulas, 
the popular basis of which is just as evident as is the 
more scholastic character of the hymns, shows that the 
consequences of the expansion in the conceptions of 
the gods were not drawn when it came to the actual cult. 


From this point of view it is therefore significant 
to find the large place taken in the practice of the 
religion by incantation rituals and divination prae* 

1 Or Nin-kharsag — another designation of the consort of Enlil. 
See above, p. 202. 



tices. It is inconceivable that the hymns and the in- 
cantations should be the product of the same order of 
thought, and as we proceed in our study of the religion 
of Babylonia and Assyria the evidence increases for 
the thesis that the incantation texts, growing by ac- 
cumulation from age to age, represent the older prod- 
ucts which are retained by the side of compositions 
expressive of more advanced thought. The power 
appealed to to furnish relief must be addressed, and 
naturally the priests will endeavor to embody in this 
address the conceptions of the god or goddess that have 
been developed as a result of their speculations and 
attempts at systematization. The technical term 
shiptu for " incantation " is therefore attached to the 
hymns as a further indication that they form an in- 
gredient part of this subdivision of the religious 

Taking up the incantations proper, we find the 
basic idea to be the theory that sickness and all forms 
of bodily suffering are due to the activity of demons 
that have either of their own accord entered the body 
of the victim, or that have been induced to do so 
through the power exercised by a special class of 
sorcerers or sorceresses who are able to bewitch one 
with the aid of the demons. This theory of ailments 
of the flesh is of course the one commonly held among 
people in a primitive stage of culture, and which is 
carried over to the higher phases. That aches and 
fevers should be ascribed to the activity of demoniac 
forces within one is a natural corollary to the animistic 
conception controlling the religion of Babylonia and 
Assyria, and which ascribes life to everything that 
manifests power. A cramp, a throbbing of the head, 
a shooting pain, a burning fever naturally give the 
impression that something — to speak indefinitely — is 
inside of you producing the symptoms; and modern 
science curiously enough with its germ theory to 
account for so many diseases comes to the aid of the 



primitive notion of demoniac possession. To secure 
relief, it was therefore necessary to get rid of the demon 
— to exorcise the mischievous being. It was also natural 
to conclude that the demons, ordinarily invisible, lurk- 
ing in the corners, gliding through doors, hiding in 
out of the way places to pounce upon their victims 
unawares, should be under the control of the gods as 
whose messengers they thus acted. The presence of a 
demon in the body was therefore a form of punishment 
sent by a deity, angered because of some sin committed. 
But besides the gods, certain individuals were supposed 
to have the power over the demons to superinduce 
them to lay hold of their victims. Giants and dwarfs, 
the crippled and deformed, persons with a strange ex- 
pression in their eyes, inasmuch as they represented 
deviations from the normal, were regarded as imbued 
with such power, and curiously enough women were 
more commonly singled out than men, perhaps because 
of the mysterious function of the female in harboring 
the new life in her womb. As a survival from this 
point of view, we find the witch far down into the 
Middle Ages a commoner figure than the sorcerer, and 
in fact surviving the belief in the latter. 

In whatever way the demon may have found his 
way into the victim, the appeal had to be made to a 
god or goddess to drive him out ; nor was the theory 
that the demon represented the punishment sent by an 
angered deity affected by the power ascribed to certain 
individuals to bewitch individuals, for it was also in 
this case because the deity was offended that the sor- 
cerer or sorceress could exercise his or her power. With 
the good will and favor of the gods assured, one was 
secure from demons and sorcerers alike. 

The existence of several elaborate incantation series 
in Ashurbanapal's library, prescribing a large number 
of formulas to be recited in connection with symbolical 
rites to get rid of the demons, furnishes the proof for 
the practical significance attached to incantations in 


both Babylonia and Assyria. These series, Babylonian 
in origin, revert to Sumerian prototypes and represent 
compilations stretching over a long period, with addi- 
tions intended to adapt them to conditions prevailing 
in Assyria. The scribes of Ashurbanapal were not in- 
dulging in a purely academic exercise in copying the 
archives of Babylonian temples ; their purpose, as was 
also the aim of the king, was to make Nineveh the 
central religious authority as well as the political mis- 
tress by having in their control the accumulated ex- 
perience of the past, in dealing with the religious needs 
and problems of their own age. 

A feature which these incantation series 2 have in 
eommon is the recognition of a large number of demons, 
with special functions assigned in many cases to the 
one class or the other. So, for example, there is a 
demon Labartu, represented as a horrible monster with 
swine sucking at her breasts, 8 who threatens the life of 
the mother at childbirth; a group known as Ashakku 
who cause varieties of wasting diseases, another demon 
Ti'u, whose special function was to cause diseases, 
manifesting themselves by headaches accompanied by 
fever, and so on through a long list. It will be apparent 
that there is no differentiation between the demon and 
the disease. The one is the synonym of the other, and 
accordingly in medical texts the demons are introduced 
as the designations of the diseases themselves. The 
names given to the demons in many cases convey the 
"strength" or "size" ascribed to them, such as Utukku, 
Alu, Shedu, Gallu, or they embody a descriptive epithet 
like Akhkhazu, "seizer" (also the name of a form of 

* Large portions of five series have now been published, having 
the names: (1) Utukki Umnuti (the evil utukM), (2) Ashakki 
marsuti (disease ashakki), (3) Labartu-series, (4) Shurpd (burn- 
ing), (5) Maklu ("consuming"). See copious specimens in Jastrow, 
Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, I, pp. 273-392. 

1 See the illustration at the bottom of the bronse plaque, Plate 
LXVI, Pig. 1 and p, 411, 



jaundice); Rabisu, the one lying-in-wait; Ldbasu, 
"overthrower"; Lilu and the feminine Lilitu, "night- 
spirit"; Etimmu, ghost or shade, suggesting an identi- 
cation of some demons with the dead who return to 
lague the living, Namtar, "pestilence," and more the 
like. The descriptions given of them, cruel, horrible 
of aspect, blood-thirsty, flying through space, generally 
invisible though sometimes assuming human or animal 
ape or a mixture of the two, further illustrate the 
conceptions popularly held. A group of seven fre- 
uently occurring in the texts and depicted on monu- 
ents 4 is described as follows : 6 

"Seven, they are they seven, 
In the deep they are seven, 
Settling in heaven they are seven. 
In a section of the deep they were nurtured; 
Neither male nor female are they, 
Destructive whirlwinds are they, 
They have no wife, they produce no offspring. 
Mercy and pity they know not, 
Prayer and petition they hear not, 
Horses raised in the mountains e are they. 
Hostile to Ea T are they, 
Throne bearers of the gods are they, 
To hem the way they set themselves up in the streets. 
Evil are they, evil are they, 
Seven are they, they are seven, twice seven are they." 

Their universality as well as their function in seiz- 
lg hold of their victims, taking up their seat in any 
^art of the human body, is emphasized in another 

More specific is the description of the demon Ti'u, 
le demon of head troubles and of fevers. 8 

• See Plate LXVI, Fig.l, and Plate LXVII, Fig. 2. 
B Cuneiform Texts, XVI, PL 15, 28-57. 

• I.e. t wild horses. 

1 The god of humanity. See above, p. 210, seq. 
8 Cun. Texts, xvii, PL 19, 1-30. 



"The head disease roams in the wilderness, raging like the wind, 

Flaming like lightning, tearing along above and below, 

Crushing him who fears not his god like a reed, 

Cutting his sinews like a khinu-reed, 

Maiming the limbs of him who has not a protecting goddess, 

Glittering like a star of heaven, flowing like water, 

Besetting a man like a whirlwind, driving him like a storm ; 

Killing that man, 

Piercing another as in a cramp, * 

So that he is slashed like one whose heart has been torn out, 

Burning like one thrown into the fire f lfl 

Like a wild ass whose eyes are clouded, 11 

Attacking his life, in league with death, 

So is Ti r u, who is like a heavy storm whose course no one can follow, 

"Whose final goal no one knows." 

Elsewhere the invisibility of the demons is dwelled 
upon. Of the Ashakku it is said Ia that, sweeping along 
like a storm, driving through the streets and highways 

* ' He stands at the aide of a man, without anyone seeing him, 
He sits at the side of a man, without anyone seeing him, 
He enters a house, without anyone seeing his form. 
He leaves a house, without anyone observing him." 


The methods of obtaining release from the demons 
are as various as the demons themselves, though they 
all rest on two motifs — the power supposed to reside 
in certain formulas urging the demons to leave their 
victim, and the performance of certain rites based on 
sympathetic or symbolical magic, either mimicking the 
hoped-for release or applying certain remedies; but 
always with the idea that they will drive the demon 

* He writhes in pain like one seized by a cramp, literally * ' cutting 
of the inside/' 

10 A description of a burning fever. 

11 In the medical texts the blinding headache is described in this 
way as clouding a man 's vision. 

11 Cun. Texts, xvii, PI. 3, 21-28. 


away, rather than that they will have any direct bene- 
ficial effect on the patient. 

The magic formulas invariably involve the invoca- 
tion addressed to some divine agent or to a group of 
deities. The names of the gods have a certain power, 
the name being, according to a widely prevalent view, 
part of the essence of the being. Besides, words as 
such are also imbued with power — a thought naturally 
suggested by the command of a superior which is 
obeyed by the one dependent upon a chief, and rein- 
forced by the mystery of writing as the reflex of the 
spoken word. 

A few specimens of the formulas will not be out of 
place. A brief and comprehensive one that is fre- 
quently found is 

" By the name of heaven be ye forsworn, by the name of earth be 
ye forsworn," 

Or the exorciser appeals to all the gods as 

"By the name of the gods, I adjure you" 

or certain gods are specifically named as at the close of 
a rather elaborate command to the demons to leave the 

"Away, away, far away, far away, 

Be ashamed, be ashamed ! Fly, fly away I 

Turn about, go away, far away, 

May your evil like the smoke mount to heaven ! u 

Out of my body away, 

Out of my body far away, 

Out of my body in shame, 

Out of my body fly away, 

Out of my body turn away, 

Out of my body go away. 

To my body do not return, 

To my body do not approach, 

" MaUu series (ed. Tallqvist, Tablet V, 166-184) . ™™™** 
"The line assumes, as an accompanying rite, the burning of 
images of the demons. 



To my body draw not nigh, 

My body do not afflict. 

By Shamash, the powerful, be ye forsworn, 

By Ea, the lord of the universe, be ye forsworn, 

By Marduk, the chief diviner of the great gods, be ye forgwc 

By the fire-god, who consumes you, be ye forsworn, 

From my body be ye restrained !" 

The magic formulas with the invocation to the gods 
constitute, however, only half of the exorcising ritual, 
the other and in many respects more important half 
being marked by ceremonies, accompanying the 
formulas, which as suggested either represent dram- 
atically and symbolically the destruction or driving 
out of the demons, or fall within the category of medici- 
nal charms that are supposed to have a direct effect 
on the demons. We have already had occasion in dis- 
cussing the views held of Ea, the water-god, 15 and 
of Nusku (with various other designations), 1 * the fire- 
god, to point out that water and fire constitute the two 
chief elements in the symbolical rites for exorcising 
the demons. The Ea-ritual involved washing or sprink- 
ling the body of the victim with water that is to be 
taken from the Euphrates or Tigris as the sacred 
streams, or from some bubbling source coming directly 
out of the earth. So we read : 1T 

"With pure, clear water, 
With bright, shining water, 
Seven times and again seven times, 
Sprinkle, purify, cleanse I 
May the evil Rabisyu depart I 
May he step to one side ! 
May the good Shedu, the good Ijamassu, remain in my body I 
By heaven, be ye forsworn, 
By earth, be ye forsworn. ■ ' 

» Above, p. 211. 
18 Above, p. 226, seq. 

11 Haupt, Akkadische und Sutnerische KeUschrifttexte (Leipzig, 
1892), p. 90, col. Ill, 1-13. 



An image is frequently made of the demon or of 
the sorcerer or sorceress, placed on a little boat and 
sent over the waters to the accompaniment of formulas, 
voicing the hope that as the image passes along the 
evil spirit may depart. The little boat is made to 
capsize and the image is drowned, or it is directly 
thrown into the water and thus again the hoped for 
release is dramatically reproduced. The variations in 
the rites are naturally endless. It is merely a further 
modification of the Ea ritual if we find elsewhere direc- 
tions to surround the bed on which the sick man lies 
with some kind of porridge made of water and barley, 
to symbolize the isolation of the individual, and with 
this isolation to secure his release from the torturing 

As the Ea ritual revolves around the use of water, 
in all kinds of variations, so the Nusku ritual is pri- 
marily concerned with the use of fire as a means of 
exorcising the demons, or of destroying the sorcerer and 
sorceress. The most direct method was to make an 
image of the demon and burn it, in the hope that the 
imitation might bring about the reality. 18 
4i I raise the torch, their images I burn, 
The images of the Utukku, Shedu, Rabiau, Etimmu, 
Of Labartu, Labasu, Akhkhazu, 
Of Lilu, Lilit and maid of Lilu, 
And aU evil that seizes men. 
Tremble, melt and dissolve, 
Your smoke rise to heaven, 
Your limbs may the sun-god destroy. 
Your strength may ftlarduk, the chief exorcisor, the son of Ea, 


Or for the sorcerer and sorceress: 1B 

"On this day step forward to my judgment, 

Suppress the uproar, overpower evil, 

As these images nutter, melt and disappear 

So may the sorcerer and sorceress flutter, melt and disappear 1" 

11 Maklu, Tablet I, 135-143. 
"> Maklu, Tablet II, 132-135. 



The images were made of various materials such as 
pitch, clay, dough and bronze. A variation of this fire 
ritual consisted in taking substances such as onions, 
dates, palm cones, bits of wool, and seeds, and throwing 
them into the fire to the accompaniment again of magic 
formulas. A single specimen of such an incantation 
will suffice. 20 

"As the onion is peeled and thrown into the fire, 
Consumed in the flaming fire, 
In a garden will never again be planted, 
In furrow and ditch will never be imbedded, 
Its root will never again stick in the ground, 
Its stalk never grow, never see the light of the sun, 
Will never come on the table of a god or king, 
So may the curse, ban, pain and torture, 
Sickness, aches, misdeed, sin, wrong, transgression, 
The sickness in my body, in my flesh, in my muscles, 
Be peeled as this onion, 
This day be burned in the flaming fire. 
May the ban be removed, may I see the light ! ' ' 

Similar formulas are prescribed for the other sub- 

In addition, however, to burning the images of 
demons or sorcerers or throwing them into the water, a 
large variety of other symbolical actions are introduced 
in the incantation series, all falling within the category 
of sympathetic magic. The image is bound, hands and 
feet, so as not to be able to move, its eyes are pierced 
or filled with spittle, its tongue pulled out or tied, its 
mouth covered, or poison dripped into it or stuffed with 
dust, its body slit open 21 and the like ; and thus muti- 
lated, it is thrown into water or fire or on a dust heap. 
From such rites it is not a long step to the endeavor 
to transfer the demon from the victim to some sub- 
stitute^ — a lamb, a pig or a bird, which appears then to 

20 Shurpu-series (ed. Zimmern), Tablet V-VI, 60-72. 
"See e.g., Maklu-series, Tablet III, 89-103 and Tablet t™ 


have been offered up as a vicarious sacrifice for the life 
of the victim. 22 

"The lamb as a substitute for a man, 
The lamb he gives for his life. 

The head of the lamb he gives for the head of the man. 
The neck of the lamb he gives for the neck of the man. 
The breast of the lamb he gives for the breast of the man. " 

The underlying thought is that the demon passes 
out into the animal which is offered to the gods, to 
appease their anger against the human sufferer. We 
are justified in drawing this conclusion from the cau- 
tion expressly given 28 not to eat the animal which is 
declared to be taboo : 

"Take a white lamb of Tammuz,* 4 
Place it near the sick man, 
Tear out its insides. 
Place in the hand of the man, 
And pronounce the incantation of Eridu. 
That lamb whose insides thou hast torn out, 
Cover it up as forbidden food for that man, 
Consign it to the flame or throw it into the street. 
That man shut up in a room and pronounce the incantation of 

The animal has become unclean through the demon 
that has been transferred to it; therefore it is not to be 
eaten, and while it is offered to the gods as a means of 
diverting their anger from the man on whom it has 
been visited, it is not a sacrifice in the ordinary sense. 
The demon may be also transferred to a bird which is 
caught for the purpose, slaughtered and cut up, after 
which the blood together with its skin and some por- 
tions of the body is burned in the fire 25 to the accom- 
paniment of an incantation. 

M Cun. Texts, xvii, PL 37, Tablet 2Z, 15-22. 

* Cun. Texts, xvii, PL 10, 73-11, 87. 

M I.e., born in the month of Tammuz — the spring season. 

■• See Cun. Texts, Part xxiii, PL 49, 3-6. 




We have still to consider an aspect of the inca 
tion rites which brings them into close relationship to 
medical remedies. The incantation, in so far as its aim 
is to cure the patient, is a precursor of medical treat- 
ment, and so long as the theory of disease which re- 
garded all sickness as due to the presence of a demon 
in the hody prevailed, medicine could never cut itself 
loose from the principle underlying the various 
methods resorted to, for releasing the victim from the 
clutch of the demons. Incantations, magic rites, sym- 
bolical ceremonies had precisely the same object in vie* 
as medicine proper — to drive or coax the demon out of 
the body, or, vice versa, medical treatment was supposed 
to act on the demon, while the cure of the patient was 
merely an incidental though obvious consequence that 
followed upon the exorcism of the demon. Such we 
find to be actually the theory on which medicine rested 
among the Babylonians and Assyrians down to the 
latest days; it formed an integral part of the incanta- 
tion division of the religious literature, and while pre- 
scriptions of a purely medical character are to be traced 
back to quite an early period, they are invariably ac- 
companied by certain magic, rites of precisely the same 
character as are found in incantations proper. But 
the question may be asked, did not the Babylonians 
and Assyrians recognize that there were substances and 
certain remedies which effected a cure ? Certainly, but 
it is just because medicine arises as an empirical science, 
based wholly on experience, that it could flourish though 
attached to so primitive a notion as the exorcism of 
demons. If a certain treatment was good for a pa- 
tient, it was so because it was bad for the demon. If 
certain herbs and certain concoctions acted favorably 
on a sick man, it was because the demons did not like 
the smell or taste of the herbs, or because the ingredi- 
ents of which the concoction was made were unpleasant 



to the demons and caused them to leave their victim, 
rather than be subjected to the annoyance of unpleas- 
ant ordeals. In the case of stomach troubles, for ex- 
ample, which naturally belonged to the most common 
of diseases, the remedies resulted in vomiting or in 
loosening the bowels, and it was supposed that in this 
way the demon was forced out of the body through one 
end or the other. Experience taught the people that 
for cramps and certain pains manipulation of the parts 
of the body involved furnished relief, but in such cases 
it was again perfectly natural to conclude that the 
demons did not enjoy such manipulation, and preferred 
to quit their victim rather than to submit to it again. 
The theory could thus be made to fit any conditions. 
If we now look at the prescriptions in the medical texts 
of Babylonia and Assyria, of which we have a consider- 
able number, 26 we are struck by the large proportion 
of bitter, pungent, ill-smelling substances which were 
frequently ordered to be given, including a large num- 
ber of downright nasty substances, such as putrid food, 
fat, crushed bones, earth, dirt, urine and excrements 
of human beings and of certain animals. The purpose 
of these was evidently to disgust the demons through 
the evil smell, and to induce them to fly to more agree- 
able surroundings ; and if we also find pleasant ingredi- 
ents like milk, honey, cream, sweet-smelling herbs and 
pleasant oils and unguents, we are justified in conclud- 
ing that the aim of these was to gently coax the demons 
to leave their victims, just as the gods are bribed and 
their anger appeased by sweet-smelling incense added 

■ to the sacrifices. 
An incantation in connection with the use of butter 
and milk, frequently prescribed in medical texts, 

reads: *_ 

*• See a paper by the writer on "The Medicine of the Babylonians 
and Assyrians' 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medi- 
cine (London) for March, 1914 (pp. 109-176), for further details. 
■ Cun. Tests, xvii, PL 23, 170-191. 




1 4 Butter brought from a clean stall, 

Milk brought from a clean fold, 

Over the shining butter brought from a clean stall recite an 

May the man, the son of his god/ 8 be cleansed, 
May that man like butter be clean 1 
Like that milk cleansed, 
Like refined silver shine, 
Like burnished copper glitter ! 
To Shamash, the leader of the gods, commit him/' 
Into the gracious hands of Shamash, the leader of the gods, 

salvation 30 committed/' 

In connection with a medical prescription consist- 
ing of eight ingredients, an incantation is added in 
which by a play upon the name of each of the substances 
the hope is expressed that the power of the sorceress 
may be broken : 30 

**Like the mint may her charm be crushed," 1 
Like the sapru-herb may her charm destroy her," 
Like a thorn weed may her charm pierce her," 
Like the sammu-weed may her charm make her blind, 
Like cassia may her charm bind her, 
Like khaltappan-herb may her charm terrify her, 
Like kitmu-herb may her charm cover her, 
Like araru-herb may her charm curse her, 
Like mukhurtu-herb may her charm cut her lips. ' ' 

Oil as one of the most common of remedies is also 
introduced into the incantation texts, and by a natural 
association with water is attached to the Eridu-ritual. 

The word used con- 

,a I.e., his protecting deity. 

" Prom out of the clutches of the demon, 
veys the idea also of a complete cure. 

"Maklu-Series, Tablet V, 30-38. 

" Ninu (mint) with a play on enu, "humble." 

" Sapru — the name of a medicinal herb— with a play on saf 

•* Sikhlu (a thorny weed), with a play on sakhalu, "to pierce"; 
and, similarly, in the case of the other substances. 



The priest in rubbing the victim with oil pronounces 
formulas that imply the appeal to Ea, the god of 
Eridu. 34 

"Pure oil, shining oil, brilliant oil. 

Oil which makes the gods shine," 

Oil which mollifies the muscles of man. 

The oil of Eaa incantation, with the oil of Marduk's incantation 

I pour over thee ; with the healing oil, 

Granted by Ea for easing (pain) I rub thee; 

Oil of life I give thee j 

Through the incantation of Ea, the lord of Eridu, 

I will drive the sickness with which thou art afflicted out of thee. ' ' 

Not infrequently purely medical prescriptions are 
inserted into the incantation texts, 3 * and as a further 
indication of the close bond between incantations and 
medical treatment, we have large groups of texts 87 in 
which such prescriptions alternate with purely magic 
formulas, accompanied by directions of a ritualistic 
character, just as in the medical texts proper such 
directions are introduced as an essential adjunct. 38 

Lastly, we have amulets of various kinds prescribed 
as a protection against the demon, and which have also 
the power of driving the demons away after they have 
taken up their seat in some part of the body. The most 
common of such amulets are stones, supposed to have 
magic power, which are strung together into a chain 
and attached to the hands, feet, eyes, as the case may 
be, or placed around the head or hung about the neck. 
The directions are specific to use white, black or red 
strands of wool. A large variety of stones are thus in- 
troduced, and from other sources we know of the good 

" Maklu-Series, Tablet VII, 31-38 and Weissbach in Beitrdge 
zur Assyriologie, IV, p. 160. 

" An allusion to the anointing of the statues of the gods. 

■• E.g., Rawlinson IV, 2 PI. 16, No. 2; 26, No. 7. 

87 E.g., Cun. Texts, xxiii, PL 1-22. 

38 Many examples in Cun. Texts, xxiii, PL 23-50, 



luck associated with some stones, and of the bad luck 
with others. 3 * Threads also, spun from virgin kids and 
knotted, were looked upon as protections against the 
demons and, like the stone charms, were attached to 
the head, neck, hands or limbs of the patient, and even 
tied about the bed. The ramifications of the incanta- 
tion motif are thus almost endless. It was no easy task 
to fit one's self to become an exorciser, and so for the 
guidance of priests, as for the education of those being 
trained for temple service, elaborate handbooks were 
compiled in which all the details were set forth with 
almost painful accuracy. 40 Everything depended upon 
the correct application, upon the proper arrangement 
of the various ingredients for the symbolical rites to 
accompany the incantations, and upon the recitation of 
the proper formulas in the proper way. The slightest 
error might prove fatal, and in case of failure to heal 
the sick, the explanation was ready at hand that some 
error had been committed, or that a wrong method had 
been applied to drive the demons off. 

The constant fear of the demons in which the people 
passed their lives lent a somewhat sombre aspect to the 
religion of Babylonia and Assyria which crops out also 
in the methods devised for determining what the gods 
had in mind, and thus to be at least prepared for what 
the future had in store. Incantations which were 
resorted to when the evil had come and had manifested 
itself through disease and suffering correspond to 
curative medicine, into which, as we have seen, it shades 

"See Jastrow, Religion Rahylonicns und Assyriens, I, p. 464, 
seq. For stones in incantation and medical texts see Jastrow, ib. t 
I, p. 338, and Cun, Texts, xxiii, PI. 34, 29-31, and PL 42, 17-19. 

40 The texts published by Zimmern in Part II of his Beitrage zur 
Kenntniss dcr Bahylonischen Religion (Leipzig, 1901), pp. 81-219, 
represent portions of such handbooks. 



over. Divination, as the endeavor to forestall coming 
evil, has its counterpart in a measure in preventive 
medicine. Sickness and suffering were so common that 
the individual needs could not be overlooked. In the 
case of a general pestilence, to be sure, the anger of the 
gods manifested itself against the country as a whole, 
and in such cases the guilt attached itself primarily 
to the rulers upon whose good standing with the gods 
the general and public welfare depended, but when the 
demons- confined their tortures to certain individuals, 
the latter would naturally repair to the temples or 
have the priests come to them, bring sacrifices and 
with the aid of the priests endeavor to rid themselves 
of the demons. Incantation rites thus played a con- 
siderable part in the religious life of the masses. 

It was somewhat different when it came to divin- 
ing the future. Foreknowledge of this kind was im- 
portant before proceeding to war and at other crises 
affecting the general weal; and even when the signs 
were not deliberately sought out but obtruded them- 
selves on one, as in the case of phenomena in the heavens 
or of extraordinary occurrences, the common belief was 
that the portent bore on public affairs rather than on 
the fate of the individual, always excepting the rulers 
and the members of the royal family whose welfare 
was so closely bound up with the general condition of 
the people and the country. This applies more par- 
ticularly to such cases where the sign revealing the 
intention of the gods had to be sought out, for divina- 
tion methods are of two kinds, the one involving the 
interpretation of a sign which is looked for as an in- 
dication of the divine purpose, the other the explana- 
tion of a sign not of your seeking but which is obtruded 
on your notice. The chief example of the former 
method in Babylonia and Assyria is the system of 
divination for reading the future in the liver of a 
sacrificial sheep. Before an impending battle, before 
laying the foundation of a temple or palace, before 



entering upon a treaty with some rival power and in 
the face of any crisis affecting the country, including 
even the outcome of sickness of the king or of a mem- 
ber of his family, the priests were directed to kill a 
sheep, which must be without blemish, to take out the 
liver and note carefully the shape of the lobes, the gall 
bladder and gall diut, the two appendices of the liver, 
and above all the markings on the liver of a freshly 
slaughtered sheep, due to the traces on the surface of 
the subsidiary ducts carrying the gall into the main 
duct and thence into the gall bladder, there to be puri- 
fied and discharged into the duodenum. Abnormal 
peculiarities were particularly noted, such as the un- 
usual shape or size of any part of the liver, and on the 
general principle underlying all forms of divination 
that the unusual sign points to some unusual happen- 
ing, the conclusion was drawn by an association of 
ideas suggested by the sign or by a record of what hap- 
pened in the past on an occasion when the sign in 
question was observed, whether the prognostication 
was favorable or unfavorable. Thus an enlarged gall 
bladder or an unusually large finger-shaped appendix 
attached to the upper lobe of the liver portended in- 
crease, prosperity, success, added strength. But the en- 
largement may be limited to one side, and in such a case 
the association of the right side as the favorable one, 
and of the left as the unfavorable one, would lead to a 
further differentiation, a sign being interpreted as 
favorable to you, or as favorable to the enemy and there- 
fore unfavorable to you, according to the side on which 
the sign appeared. It will easily be seen how by further 
ramifications, the field of observation could be extended 
almost indefinitely, and the possible interpretations cor- 
respondingly increased. Handbooks were prepared in 
which all possible and many impossible signs — 
theoretically assumed— were entered, together with the 
interpretations, such collections to serve as guides to 
the priests in detemiining the meaning of signs noted 



in the case of a called for inspection on any occasion, 
The liver was chosen as the organ of divination, because 
of the widespread belief among people in a primitive 
and in a more advanced stage of culture which regarded 
the liver as the seat of life, 41 superinduced, no doubt, 
by the vast amount of blood — always associated with 
life — to be found in the livers of both men and 
animals. 42 The liver is the bloody organ par excellence, 
so that the Chinese speak of the liver as the " mother 
of blood/' Life was synonymous among the ancients 
with what we would call soul, and hence the liver was 
regarded as the seat of all manifestations of soul 
activity— thought and all emotions alike. It is only 
gradually as a reflex of increasing anatomical knowl- 
edge that the differentiation takes place which popu- 
larly assigns thought to the brain, the higher emotions 
to the heart, and only the lower ones such as jealousy 
and anger to the liver. 4 * The liver was originally re- 
garded as the one and only organ of life. Correspond- 
ing to this stage, the liver of the sacrificial animal, 
accepted by the deity to whom it was offered, would 
thus be regarded as a reflex of the mind of the god. 
Childish and naive as all this may seem to us, yet hepa- 
toscopy is redeemed in a measure by the theory on 
which it rests; and it acquires a certain importance 
from a general cultural point of view because of its 

41 See an article by the writer, "The Liver as the Seat of the 
Soul/' in Studies in the History of Religions, presented to C. H. 
Toy (New York, 1912), pp. 143-168. 

42 One-sixth of the blood in the human body is to be found in the 
liver ; in the case of some animals the proportion is even larger. 

4S The Babylonians and Assyrians advanced to the stage which 
saw in the heart the seat of the intellect, and the liver as merely the 
seat of the emotions, though of all emotions (see above, p. 215), but 
there are no indications that they ever recognized the function of 
the brain. Our term phrenology, derived from the Greek word for 
"midriff," is a survival of the period which placed the seat of 
thought below the diaphragm, and not in the head. 



Spread among other nations — the Hittites, Greeks and 
Romans — as a direct result of the extension of the 
sphere of Babylonian- Assyrian influence in the ancient 

The same is even more the case in a second system 
of divination, elaborated by the Babylonian priests and 
which centred around the observation of the phenom- 
ena in the heavens. We have already had occasion 4 * 
to touch upon the wide sway of astrology in the con- 
ceptions formed of the gods, whose seats under this 
sway were transferred to the heavens, quite independ- 
ent of the powers of nature which they originally 
symbolized. In contradistinction to hepaioscopy, wl 
the sign is sought out as a means of securing an answer 
to the question as to the favorable or unfavorable dis- 
position of the gods at a given moment, astrology repre- 
sents a method of divination in which the sign is forced 
upon one's attention and calls for an interpretation. 
The sun, moon, planets and stars are there and the con- 
stantly changing appearance of the heavens was 
brought into connection with the ceaseless vieissitudes 
in the fortunes of man here below. Once the step was 
taken of identifying planets and stars with gods, as 
sun and moon were gods, the further corollary fol- 
lowed that the movements in the heavens represented 
the activity of the gods, preparing the events that took 
place on earth. Everything being dependent upon the 
gods and everything in nature and in the life of man- 
kind being due to the gods, the theory arose in the 
schools of speculative thought of a correspondence be- 
tween conditions to bd^ observed in the heavens and 
phenomena on earth. Astrology, or the interpretation 
of the signs in the heavens, thus takes its rise as an out- 
come of speculation of a comparatively advanced char- 
acter in contrast to liver divination, which rests upon 
an essentially popular belief of the liver as the seat of 
life. The second method of divination thus stands on 

« 4 See above, p. 209. 



a far higher plane; it involves a careful observation 
of the movements of the sun and moon, far above the 
reach of the average mind, and to an even larger extent 
is this the ease in endeavors to follow the slower and 
less conspicuous movements of the planets. The 
simplest form of astrology thus involves some astro- 
nomical knowledge, and it is not surprising to find that 
the endeavor to read the coming events in the heavens 
led from a pseudo-science to a real one, which in the 
later periods reached an astonishing degree of per- 
fection. So strong, however, was the hold which 
astrology acquired that even after the point had been 
reached of recognizing the laws presiding over the 
phenomena in the heavens, priests continued to con- 
clude from conditions in the heavens what was to occur 
on earth ; and the priests of Babylonia were succeeded 
by the astronomers of Greece and the star-gazers of 
Rome, who applied and amplified the system of inter- 
pretation, evolved in the course of millenniums in the 
Euphrates Valley. Until the threshold of modern 
science astrology was cultivated as a discipline of 
genuine value throughout Europe, by the side of and in 
connection with astronomy. 

The supposed correspondence between phenomena 
and movements in the heavens and occurrences here on 
earth was, however, not the only factor involved in 
Babylonian-Assyrian astrology. The two chief gods 
in the heavens were the sun and the moon, the former 
recognized by experience as the regulator of the 
seasons, the latter a means of calculating time. The 
movements of the sun and moon represent a constant 
transition, in the case of the sun from night to morn- 
ing, in the ease of the moon the regular succession of 
its four chief phases. This transition motif in the 
heavens had its parallel in the life of man, in the tran- 
sition of the new life issuing out of the womb of the 
mother, the transition from childhood to adolescence 
marked by striking physical phenomena at the age of 



puberty, the transition from life to death. The depend- 
ence of man upon the sun and moon being a fact too 
obvious to be overlooked, the transition periods in con- 
nection with these two bodies were carefully noted as 
furnishing an indication whether one could look for- 
ward to a favorable or unfavorable turn in the affairs 
of mankind. Note was accordingly taken of the phe- 
nomena attending sunrise, whether the sun rose in a 
clear sky or enveloped in clouds ; and in addition, any 
striking conditions under which the sun appeared at 
any time, with a halo around it, or through atmospheric 
disturbances appearing paler or brighter than usual, 
and above all an eclipse of the sun or an obscuration 
under circumstances which seemed to suggest an 
eclipse. Association of ideas and the record of events 
that followed in the past upon the observation of cer- 
tain striking phenomena in the sim, formed again the 
two chief principles involved in the interpretation. The 
unusual because abnormal pointed to some occurrence 
out of the ordinary — an eclipse or obscuration of the 
sun by a natural association portending some disaster 
— bad crops, defeat in war, sickness in the royal family, 
destructive stonns, inundations, pestilence, a plague of 
locusts or what not. 

For the moon the scope of observation was still 
wider. Of the phases of the moon, the appearance of 
the new moon, the time of full-moon and the disap- 
pearance of the moon for a few days at the end of each 
hrnar month represented the chief periods of transi- 
tion. All three were marked with great significance. 
The disappearance of the moon naturally aroused un- 
easiness. Popular niyths arose, representing the cause 
of the disappearance as due to the capture of the moon 
by hostile powers; and great was the rejoicing when 
the new moon appeared. The time of the disappear- 
ance as of the reappearance could only be approx- 
imately determined, and according as the disappear- 



ance took place on the 27th or 28th day, it presaged a 
different event. Similarly, in the absence of any exact 
astronomical calculation, the new moon might appear 
to be delayed, which was always looked upon as a bad 
omen, The length of the lunar months varying some- 
what in the calendar as fixed by the priests, the day 
on which the moon appeared to be full might be the 
14th or 15th day, while through defective calculations 
it might appear not to be full till the 16th day, or as 
early as the 13th day. A too early or a belated appear- 
ance of the new moon or full moon was generally re- 
garded as an evil omen, though under other attendant 
circumstances, the unfavorable sign might be converted 
into a favorable one. 

Thirdly, we have the further extension of the scope 
of astrological divination by the identification of the 
great gods of the pantheon with the planets, Jupiter 
with Marduk, Mercury with Nabu, Mars with Nergal, 
Saturn with Ninib, and Venus with Ishtar. The condi- 
tions under which the planets appeared, whether bright 
or pale, their relative position to one another, to certain 
stars and to the moon, and such phenomena as the 
phases of Ishtar, were noted and interpretations 
recorded. The ecliptic as the road along which the sun 
and the planets appeared to move was recognized, and 
a three-fold division set up corresponding to the three- 
fold division of the universe. Adopting the terminol- 
ogy for the latter, the northern section of the ecliptic 
was assigned to Ea, the middle to Anu, and the southern 
to Enlil; and according to the position of any planet 
at any time, a further means of securing differentiating 
interpretations was obtained. Various other devices, 
all of a more or less artificial character, were resorted 
to in order to build up a system of interpretation, as 
for example the parcelling out of the four directions, 
South, North, East and West among the four countries, 
Babylonia, Assyria, Elam and Amurru, and according 



as a phenomenon was observed on one side or the other 
of the moon or sun or of one of the planets, the inter- 
pretation was applied to the corresponding country. 

"Without entering into further details, suffice it to 
say that for obvious reasons astrology was a form of 
divination that bore almost exclusively on the public 
welfare — the outcome of a military expedition, the 
crops, general prosperity or national catastrophes, the 
effects of storms, inundations, the invasion of the 
enemy, the sickness or death of the ruler, rebellion, 
change of the dynasty, and the like. The individual 
had a very minor share. Only the faint beginnings of 
an attempt to read in the stars the fate of the individual 
can be detected in Babylonian-Assyrian astrology. 
That phase of the pseudo-science was taken up by the 
Greeks, who appear to have cultivated astronomy long 
before they came into contact with Babylonian 
syrian astrology, and who, as we know/ 5 took over the 
astrological system perfected in the Euphrates Valley 
and grafted it on to their own astronomy. 

Lastly, the observation of atmospheric phenomena 
such as winds, storms, earthquakes, thunder and light- 
ning and the movements and shapes of clouds was 
added as a supplement to astrology proper, as a fertile 
field for determining what the gods, who controlled 
these phenomena likewise, intended to bring to pass on 
earth. The factor of fancy entered into this subdivi- 
sion of divination even more largely, and according to 
the direction of the wind, the number of thunder claps, 
the character of the lightning, the fanciful figures of 
the clouds, and the conditions under which these and 
various other phenomena appeared, the interpreta- 
tions, usually bearing on matters of public weal, varied. 

45 See, for the proof, Jastrow, Religion Babyloniens vnd As- 
syriewt, II, pp. 703, seq., and 744, seq., and the monograph of Bezold 
and Bali, Reflexe Astrologischer Keilinschriften bei Qricchisckcn 
SckriftsteUern (Heidelberg, 1911). 




A third system of divination that flourished in 
Babylonia and Assyria and, like the two others, made 
its influence widely felt in antiquity was the interpreta- 
tion of abnormalities of all kinds in the case of infants 
and the young of animals, observed at the time of birth. 
The new life issuing so mysteriously out of the mother 
marked a transition to which all the greater importance 
was attached because of the profound impression made 
by the mystery of life in general. This system falls, 
as does astrology, in the class of omens which are forced 
on one's attention— not deliberately sought out, as in 
the ease of hepatoscopy. The observation of birth- 
signs shares, however, with hepatoscopy its bearing on 
the fate of the individual as well as on the public 
welfare, and indeed to a greater extent than is the case 
in divination through the liver of the sacrificial animal, 
resorted to, as we have seen, chiefly for public and of- 
ficial purposes. The house in which an infant with 
anomalous features is born or the stall in which an 
animal deviating in one way or the other from normal 
conditions makes its appearance were supposed to be 
directly affected by the unusual phenomenon, but in 
many cases an alternative interpretation is offered, 
bearing on public affairs, while in the event of an ex- 
traordinary deviation such as the birth of an unusually 
large litter, or so rare an occurrence as triplets or four 
or even five infants born to a woman, or the birth of 
some monstrous creature, the sign was an ominous one 
for the whole country primarily, if not exclusively. The 
range of anomalies recorded in the compilations of the 
diviners and in official reports is exceedingly large and, 
as more texts come to light, reaches proportions almost 
too large to be controlled. In general the deviation 
from the normal was regarded as an evil omen, though 
there are not infrequent exceptions. The distinction 
between the right as the favorable side and the left as 



the unfavorable one t is introduced as a basis for varying 
interpretations. Thus, if a lamb is born with the right 
ear lacking, it signifies that "the rule of the king will 
come to an end/' "confusion in the land," "loss of 
cattle' 7 and the like, whereas the lack of the left ear 
prognosticates corresponding misfortunes to the enemy 
and his country, and is therefore favorable to Babylonia 
and Assyria. Again, two ears appearing on the right 
side and none on the left is an unfavorable sign, 
whereas two ears on the left and none on the right is 
unfavorable for the enemy and therefore favorable for 
you. In the enumeration of anomalies we must again 
take into account the factor of fancy and the desire to 
make the collections complete so as to be prepared for 
all emergencies. Many of the entries are therefore 
purely * ' academic. ' ' * 8 

The factor of fancy manifests itself in these hand- 
books of the Babylonian-Assyrian diviners in a form 
which is especially interesting, because of the explana- 
tion it affords for the widespread belief in antiquity in 
hybrid creatures such as satyrs, mermaids, fauns, har- 
pies, sphinxes, winged serpents and the many fabulous 
monsters of mythology and folk-lore. We have long 
lists of the young of animals having the features or 
parts of the body of another animal. Instead, however, 
of being recorded as a mere resemblance, an ew T e giving 
birth to a lamb having a head which suggests that of a 
lion, or of a dog, an ass, of a fox or a gazelle, or ears or 
eyes which suggest those of another animal, it is stated 
that the ewe has given birth to a lion, dog, ass, fox ga- 
zelle, as the case may be. In the same way, since it often 
happens that the face of an infant suggests a bird, a 
dog, a pig, a lamb, or what not, the fancied resemblance 
leads to the statement that a woman has given birth to 
the animal in question, which thus becomes an omen, 
the interpretation of which varies according to the 

4i See, for details, Jastrow, Babylonian- Assyrian Birth-omens 
and their Cultural Significance (Giessen, 1914). 


ideas associated with the particular animal. A lion 
suggests power and enlargement, and therefore a lamb 
or an infant with a lion-like face points to increase and 
prosperity in the land and to the growing strength of 
the ruler, and is also a favorable sign for the stall or 
house in which such a creature is born. Favorable ideas, 
though of a different order, are associated with the 
lamb, pig, ox and ass, whereas with the dog as an un- 
clean animal in the ancient as well as in the modern 
Orient, the association of ideas was unfavorable, and 
similarly with the serpent, wild cow and certain other 
animals, the interpretation refers to some misfortune, 
either of a public or private character, and occasionally 
of both. This feature of a fancied resemblance be- 
tween one animal and another and between an infant 
and some animal was the starting-point which led, 
through the further play of the imagination, to the 
belief in hybrid creatures and all kinds of monstros- 
ities. The case of an infant being born with feet 
united so as to suggest the tail of a fish is actually 
recorded in our lists of birth-signs, and from such an 
anomaly to the belief in mermaids and tritons, half 
human and half fish, is only a small step, rendered still 
more credible by the representation in art which con- 
verts the resemblance to a fish tail into a real tail. 
Since we have the direct proof 41 of the spread of the 
Babylonian- Assyrian system of divination from birth- 
omens, as of the two other systems above discussed, to 
Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, there is every reason to 
believe that we are justified in tracing back to this 
system the belief in fabulous beings of all kinds, though 
it may of course be admitted that there are also other 
factors involved. We find this belief in Babylonia and 
Assyria, where we encounter in the ancient art hippo- 
centaurs as well as bulls and eagles with human faces, 
and in the Assyrian art the winged monsters with 

47 Given in the author's monograph on Babylonian-Assyrian 
Birth-omens, pp. 50-64. See also Plate XXXII, Fig. 2; Plate 
XXXIII; Plate LII and Plate LXXIV for hybrid figures. 



human faces and the bodies of bulls or winged human 
figures with eagle faces. The process once begun would 
naturally lead to all kinds of ramifications and com- 


The three systems of divination which we have 
analyzed all entered directly into the religious life of 
the people and illustrate some of the religious prac- 
tises which were maintained, like the incantation 
rituals, throughout all periods. The longing to pierce 
the unknown future, to pull aside the veil which sepa- 
rates us from a knowledge of coming events, is so strong 
in man as to have all the force of an innate quality — an 
instinct of which he himself only gradually becomes 
fully conscious. It plays an unusually prominent part 
in the religion of Babylonia and Assyria, indeed so 
prominent as to justify us in asserting that by the side 
of the ever present fear of the demons, the significance 
attached to omens was the most conspicuous outward 
manifestation of the religious spirit of the people taken 
as a whole. This conclusion is strengthened by the 
knowledge that we now have of other forms of divina- 
tion, such as pouring a few drops of oil into a basin of 
water, and according to the action of the oil in forming 
rings and bubbles that sink and rise and the directions 
in which they spread, conclusions were drawn of a more 
or less specific character, and suggested by a more or 
less artificial association of ideas with the action of the 
oil — bearing either on public affairs or on private 
matters, according to the questions asked of the 
diviners, to which they were expected to give an 
answer. 4 * 

Within the other category of involuntary divina- 
tion where the sign is obtruded on your notice, falls the 
importance attached to dreams, the interpretation of 

4S For details see Jastrow, Religion Babi/lonkns und AssyrieTis, 
II, pp. 749-775. 



which formed in fact one of the most important func- 
tions of the Babylonian-Assyrian priests acting as 
diviners. References to dreams are frequent both in 
the older and later inscriptions of Babylonian and 
Assyrian rulers. 49 A majestic figure reaching from 
earth to heaven appears to Gudea in a dream; it turns 
out to be the god Ningirsu, A female figure also rises 
up with a tablet and a stylus who is the goddess Nisaba. 
The sun mounting up from the earth is explained to be 
the god of vegetation, Ningishzida. Various utensils 
and building material and an ass to carry burdens 
which the ruler sees in his dream leave no doubt as 
to the interpretation of the vision. It is the order to 
Gudea to build a temple according to the plan drawn 
on a tablet by a second male figure appearing to him, 
and who turns out to be the god Nin-dub. The inter- 
pretation is given to the ruler in this instance by the 
goddess Nina as whose son he designates himself. 
Ordinarily, however, it is to a priest to whom rulers 
and people go to learn the meaning of dreams, in the 
belief that dreams are omens or signs sent by the gods 
as a means of indicating what is about to happen ; and 
even in Gudea *s case we may safely assume that the 
interpretation ascribed to the goddess directly was 
furnished to him through the mediation of the priests. 
At the other end of Babylonian history, we find Ne- 
buchadnezzar and a goddess appearing to Nabonnedos, 
the last king of Babylonia, in dreams to explain certain 
strange signs that had lately been reported. In the 
inscriptions of Ashurbanapal, the great king of As- 
ria, there are several references to dreams. The 
)ddess Ishtar rises before him and encourages the 
king to give battle. A diviner has a dream in which 
he sees certain ominous words written on the moon. 
The priests made compilations of all kinds of phenom- 
ena that might appear to people in dreams with the 

4 * See examples in Jastrow, Religion Bdbyloniens und Assyriens, 
II, p, 955-958, 



interpretations added, and no doubt the endeavor was 
made also in these handbooks to be prepared for all 
emergencies. If one dreams of carrying dates on one's 
head, it meant distress, if vegetables that things will 
go well, if salt that he will suffer some injury, if a 
mountain that he will have no rival. If one dreams 
that one is flying away, it is a prognostication that good 
fortune will take wings; if he descends into the earth 
and sees dead persons, it is an indication of approaching 
death. Eating figs and drinking wine in a dream are 
good omens; dust, clay and pitch are bad signs, and so 
on ad infinitum. 

The movements and actions of animals formed 
another fertile field of divination. Among the animals, 
snakes and serpents, dogs, cows, sheep, goats, gazelles, 
falcons, mice, horses, pigs, foxes, eagles, chickens, swal- 
lows, fishes and various insects occur in lists of such 
omens preserved for us. Seeing a snake on getting up 
in the morning on New Year's Day was interpreted as 
an indication of approaching death; if the snake falls 
on a man, it means severe sickness or serious misfor- 
tune ; if it falls behind a man, the omen was a good one ; 
if it falls on the right side, that he will be seized by a 
demon of sickness, whereas on the left side the omen 
was partly favorable, partly unfavorable. The inter- 
pretations vary again according to the month and the 
day of the month on which the incident occurs, so that 
once more the field is enlarged to almost limitless 

A white dog entering a palace means siege of a city ; 
a yellow dog, that the palace will escape disaster; a 
dog of mixed colors, that the enemy will plunder the 
palace. Dogs barking at the gates prognosticate a 
pestilence, mad dogs the destruction of the city, howl- 
ing dogs the overthrow of the city. A falcon flying into 
a man's house means that his wife will die ; if the falcon 
carries off something from a man's house, that the man 
will die of a lingering disease ; if a bird builds its nest 



and lays its young in a man's house, at the entrance or 
in the court, the omen is unfavorable. 

These examples will suffice to illustrate the general 
character of the collections as well as the nature of 
the interpretations, based in part upon the same asso- 
ciation of ideas which we encountered in the case of the 
other systems of divination, and in part no doubt on the 
record of what happened in the past when the sign in 
question was observed. In addition we must always 
allow a large leeway for fancy and the purely arbi- 
trary factor, as well as the " academic' ' character of 
very many of the omens registered which probably 
never occurred, and are entered merely through the 
desire of the priests to be prepared for all possibilities 
— and impossibilities. 


To complete the general survey of the religion of 
Babylonia and Assyria, it remains for us to summa- 
rize the organization of the temples and to add some 
indications of the festal occasions on which special 
rites were observed in honor of the gods, and the manner 
in which on such occasions they were approached. 

We have already indicated, in connection with the 
discussion of the chief figures in the pantheon, the 
tendency to group around the cult of the patron deity 
of an important centre the worship of other gods, and 
we have seen that this tendency goes hand in hand with 
the political expansion of such a centre, but that the 
centre is apt to retain a considerable portion at least of 
its religious prestige even after the political decline has 
set in. The force of tradition, playing so effective a 
part in religion everywhere, would help to maintain 
rituals and practices once established, even if the con- 
ditions giving rise to such rituals and practices no 
longer prevailed. Confining ourselves to the larger 
centres and to those best known to us, like Nippur, 
Lagash, Uruk, Ur, Kish, Eridu, Sippar, Babylon and 



Borsippa in the south, and Ashur, Calah and Nineveh 
in the north, WB note the gradual extension of the area 
within which the main temple stood to become a more 
or less extensive sacred quarter. So in Nippur E-kur, 
the name of EnliFs sanctuary, becomes such a designa- 
tion to include the temples and shrines erected to the 
numerous deities grouped around Enlil and brought 
into a relationship of subserviency to their master, as 
his sons, daughi- rvants, body-guard, ministers 
and officials. Similarly in Babylon, E-sagila, as the 
name of Marduk's temple, grows to be a spacious 
quarter with numerous sanctuaries, large and small, to 
Nabn, Ninmakh (or Ishtar), Shamash, Ea, Nergal, 
Ninil) — to name only the most important. The general 
arrangement of these temples, as we shall have occa- 
sion to see in more detail in the chapter on the archi- 
tecture and art, 50 was in all cases the same, following 
an ancient prototype which provided an outer and an 
inner court of almost parallel dimensions, with a cor- 
ridor leading from the inner court to the innermost 
smaller chamber, reserved for the priests and the rulers 
and in which, enclosed in a niche, the image of the deity 
in whose honor the temple was erected stood. Grouped 
around the three divisions was a series of rooms, vary- 
ing in number according to the size and importance of 
the edifice, for the accommodation of the priests and 
for the administration of the temple, while in the case 
of the largest centres, special buildings were erected as 
store-houses for the temple possessions, stables for the 
animals, and dwellings for the numerous attendants and 
officials incident to the growing complications of the 
larger temple organizations. A feature of the main 
temple in every centre that was never lacking was a 
stage-tower, consisting of from two to seven stories, 
and placed either behind or at the side of the temple 
proper." __ 

M Chap VII. See alBo Plate XXXVIII. 

B1 See p. 374 seq, on the special significance of these towers. 



Corresponding to the growth of the temples, we find 
the organization of the cult extending its scope; and 
with this extension, the steadily increasing power and 
authority of the priests. In the small beginnings of 
the Euphratean cities, the priestly and secular func- 

• tions no doubt rested in one and the same person. 
The ruler of a city or district, as we have seen, 52 was 
regarded as the representative of the deity. As such he 
stood in a special relation to the deity, acting as a 
lediator between the latter and the people, while upon 
liis good standing with the god, the general welfare of 
le people depended. On the very ancient monument 
of Ur-Nina r ' 3 we find the ruler himself offering the 
libation to the god, though behind him stands an attend- 
ant who is probably a priest to assist in carrying out 
the rite. As early, however, as the days of Gudea (c. 
3450 B.C.) the ruler himself is led into the presence of 
the deity through the mediation of a priest. Gudea is 
so depicted on seal cylinders and other monuments, and 
)resumably therefore the marked differentiation be- 
tween priest and ruler thus illustrated was at the time 
in established custom of long standing. The mediator- 
dp may, indeed, be set down as the chief prerogative 
of the priest in Babylonia and Assyria. With this as a 
starting-point, his other functions as sacrificer, as ex- 
orciser, as inspector of the liver for the purpose of 
ascertaining the disposition of the deity, as astrologer 

Iand as diviner in general, interpreting birth-signs, 
dreams, and furnishing the answer as to the meaning 
of all kinds of occurrences that deviated from the 
normal or that in any way aroused attention, may be 
derived. The people could proceed as far as the inner 
court of the temples, where an altar stood, but beyond 
that the priests alone could venture, and the rulers only 
if accompanied by a priest who as the privileged ser- 
vitor of the deity had access to the divine presence. 
* 2 Above, p. 127 and Plate XLVI. 
" See above, p. 255 and below p, 468. 



Intercession is thus a distinguishing function of the 
priest, as a corollary to his role as mediator. 

The growth of the temple organizations along the 
lines above set forth naturally resulted in a dif- 
ferentiation of priestly functions. Besides a num- 
ber of general names for priest, such as shangu, enu, 
"votary" and itmmdmt (expert), with gradations of 
rank as indicated by the title shangu makhkhu, 
"high priest," we find over thirty classes of priests 
recorded in the material at our disposal. The "exor- 
ciser" (mashmashu or ashipu) is separated from the 
"diviner" {bdru, literally "inspector"), and these two 
from the "singer" (zammeru), "anointer" 64 (pashi- 
shu), and "musician" (kalu, lallaru, nuru, etc.) am 
from the "snake charmers" (mushlakhkha), who 
formed a class by themselves and perhaps had othei 
functions than the name suggests. Each of these hac 
numerous subdivisions such as "libationist" (ramku, 
nisakku), "anointer" (pashishu),* 4 "dream intei 
preter" and "oracle" (sha'ilu) and others such as hj 
gallu, and the abkallu, abarakkit, whose exact func 
tions still escape us." Women also took a large part 
priestesses of one kind or another in the temple sei 
vice" — as singers, "howlers" (chanting the lamenta- 
tions), musicians, exoreisers and furnishing oracles. 
We find also several classes of holy women leading a 
secluded life in special homes which would correspond 
to our cloisters and nunneries, and who were regardec 
as constituting in a measure the harem of the god tc 
whose service they were dedicated. Some of these were 
"sacred prostitutes," and it is in connection with tl 
class of priestesses that rites were practised in tl 
temples which, while probably regarded as purely 
symbolical to promote fertility among mankind and in 

■* Perhaps, however, the one who merely prepares the ointment 

65 See the full list with discussion in Prank, Studies zur Baby- 
lonischsn Religion (Strassburg, 1911), I, pp. 1-37. 
•• See Frank, %b., pp. 47-50. 



the animal world, were unmistakably obscene, or at 
least degenerated into obscene rites. 

In addition to the purely religious duties in con- 
nection with the temple service, the priests were also 
the scribes, the judges and the teachers of the people — 
all three functions following naturally from the re- 
ligious point of view involved in writing, in legal de- 
cisions and in knowledge in general. The tradition 
once established, the priests continued to act as the 
official scribes in the case of the thousands upon thous- 
ands of legal and commercial documents that have come 
down to us from all periods, though, to be sure, in 
later days we occasionally come across a scribe who 
does not appear to have been a temple official. 

The gods are the law givers, as all decisions are 
originally divine oracles furnished by their representa- 
tives, the priests. We have an interesting trace of this 
point of view among the Hebrews in the phrase "to 
go before God," used in the oldest legal code of the 
Pentateuch." The word for law in Hebrew, torn, has 
its equivalent in the Babylonian iertu which means 
"oracle," that is, a divine decision. Hammurapi places 
as the headpiece of the monument containing the laws 
of the country, 58 an effigy of himself in an attitude of 
adoration before Shamash, "the judge," as the ultimate 
source of the laws. Down to the latest days of the 
Babylonian and Assyrian kingdoms, the temples were 
also the law courts, and in the large centres, no doubt, 
special quarters were provided for the numerous offices 
and officials required to carry out this part of the 
temple service, which grew to large proportions with 
the spread of commercial activity and increasing 
business complications incident thereto. Respect for 
law thus deriving its sanction from the religion marks 
rulers and people alike; and even those kings who ap- 

6T Exodus 21, 6. The rendering *' judge" in the English version 
embodies the later interpretation. 
"Plate XXXIV. 



peared to be most ambitious to extend their power and 
authority, whose cruelty to enemies and conquered 
nations knew no bounds, who openly boast of the rav- 
ages they committed in fierce warfare, bow before the 
majesty of the law and emphasize the care with which 
they protected the rights of their subjects. 

The temples themselves had their own business 
affairs which in the case of the larger centres assumed 
the proportions of extensive commercial establish- 
ments. As the organization of the priesthood became 
more complicated, there was much work which had to 
be done for the temples. The needs of the priests and 
of the temple service had to be attended to. Contracts 
were given out for garments to be made, for temple 
property to be tilled and improved, for necessary re- 
pairs and for new edifices to be erected. A feature of 
the temple organization in both Babylonia and Assyria 
which throws a less favorable light on the religion was 
the gradual increase in their land holdings, and the 
accumulation of large resources with the help of which 
the priests themselves became important factors in the 
commercial activity of the country. We find the 
temples in the large centres engaged in renting out 
lands and houses, in all manner of barter and exchange, 
in lending large and small sums on interest, and in en- 
tering directly on the customary commercial enter- 
prises, At certain periods, the temples in fact assume 
somewhat the aspect of national banks, without, how- 
ever, ever becoming financial monopolies. In the later 
days of the Babylonian monarchy we find priestly fac- 
tions arising, who help to bring about the internal dis- 
sensions which made Babylon fall such an easy prey 
before the army of Cyrus. 08 The religion of Babylonia 
and Assyria, however, survives the political downfall 
of both the north and the south, and well on through 
the period of Greek domination following upon Persian 
control, we find the temples in the old centres still the 
80 See above, p. 184. 


object of veneration and worship, to which the new 
rulers come to share with the people in the homage to 
the ancient gods. From the earliest to the latest period 
the priests continued to act as the teachers of the 
people. With the art of writing in the hands of the 
priests, the secrets of the gods could be unlocked by 
them only. The mysterious art naturally formed the 
basis of an education which the priests alone could im- 
part. On the tablets all the extant knowledge was 
recorded, and to the tablets the wisdom and experience 
of the past was committed. Only through the hand- 
books was it possible to acquire the details of the 
various rituals and to carry out the requirements with- 
out danger of missteps. To provide for the uninter- 
rupted continuance of religious tradition and its ex- 
pression in the cult, the priests of the coming genera- 
tion had to be trained by the present one. In all the 
larger temples and no doubt in the smaller ones as 
well, schools were established by the priests to hand 
down to their successors the wisdom of the ages as 
recorded in the compilations and collections which each 
large temple made in response to practical needs, though 
only in so far as these needs dictated. For the benetit 
of the pupils, lists of the signs used in the script were 
prepared with their values as syllables and as words. 
Grammatical paradigms both for the Sumerian and the 
Akkadian texts were drawn up, exercises in the use of 
the phrases and terms occurring in the hymns, incanta- 
tions, omens, and in legal and historical texts were 
worked out in almost bewildering profusion, and texts 
edited with commentaries to explain difficult or obscure 
passages. Much of the Babylonian literature has thus 
come down to us in the form of school editions; and 
this applies also to mathematical tablets, chronological 
and geographical lists and medical prescriptions for 
which long lists of trees, plants, herbs and stones served 
as supplements, just as lists of all kinds of animals, of 
vessels of all kinds were prepared as aids for instrue- 



tion in the omen literature. There followed instruction 
in the temple service in all its ramifications, and for this 
purpose the scribes of each temple had committed to 
writing all the necessary details and had preserved 
from one generation to the other the incantation rituals, 
the hymns and prayers, the omen collections and also 
as supplements, closely bound up with the cult and the 
current beliefs, the myths and fables and miscellaneous 
productions of the past. The larger the centre, the 
larger naturally the official and school archives. The 
sciences that were evolved out of the cult, such as as- 
tronomy and mathematics in connection with astrology, 
medicine and botany as an outcome of the incantation 
rituals were likewise in the hands of the priests and re- 
mained so till a very late period. The temple schools 
thus continued to be the intellectual centres of the 
country, and no doubt these schools furnished the incen- 
tive to the cultivation of the fine arts as well. The 
priest as scribe and as judge leads to the priest as 
teacher. In this threefold capacity he dominated the 
entire civilization unfolded in the course of millen- 


The occasions on which the people repaired to the 
temples have been touched on at various points in the 
course of our survey of the chief aspects presented by 
the religion. In general it was when sickness or some 
other kind of misfortune ensued, that the people sought 
the mediating help of the priests. On such occasions 
the elaborate incantation rituals were drawn upon, the 
appropriate formidas selected and the ceremonial de- 
tails punctiliously carried out. Reports were sent to 
the riders, announcing the appearance of the new moon. 
and officially recording the exact time of fidl moon. 
All strange occurrences in the heavens and on earth 
were interpreted, and the priests were kept busy an- 
swering the questions put to them by the rulers at 



critical periods, or by the people when strange happen- 
ings took place in houses, streets or stalls, or when 
any unusual experience occurred. Owing to the large 
aspect taken on by the official character of the religion, 
the times when the rulers proceeded to the temples 
were particularly numerous. The official cult played a 
far larger pail in the religion than the satisfaction of 
the religions needs of the ordinary individual, but at 
the important festival celebrations, occurring at the 
transition periods of the year, the people joined the 
rulers in thronging the courts of the temples, witnessing 
the offering of the sacrifices which they provided for 
such occasions and perhaps taking a direct, albeit a 
minor, part in the ceremonies incident thereto. The 
sacrifices embraced animals and land produce, as well 
as precious woods and special votive gifts. Lists em- 
bodied in Gudea's inscriptions,* which may be re- 
garded as typical, enumerate oxen, sheep and goats, 
doves and various other domesticated birds, chickens, 
ducks and geese (?), various kinds of fish, dates, figs, 
cucumbers, butter, oil, cakes. In what way the animals 
to be offered were selected we do not as yet know, but 
it is eminently likely that with the perfected organiza- 
tion of the priesthood, regular tariffs were set up, 
prescribing what was to be brought on each occasion 
and in what amounts- — very much as in the various 
Pentateuchal codes and in Phoenician sacrificial tar- 
ifs. The Few Year's festival, celebrated at the com- 
mencement of the spring season and marking the tran- 
sition from the winter — the period of nature's silence 
— to the reawakening to new life was the most solemn 
occasion of the year. Its celebration may be traced 
back to the old Babylonian period. In Lagash it was 
pictured as the marriage day of the solar deity Nin- 
girsu with his consort Ban, the mother-goddess, the 
union, accordingly, of the male and female element, 

M Statue E, cols. 5-6 and G, cols. 4-5 and elsewhere (Thureau- 
Dangin, Sumerisck-Akkadwche Kdnigsinschriftcn, pp. 80-84). 



issuing in the new life pulsating throughout the earth 
in the joyous springtime. The sacrifices offered at the 
festival were designated as the wedding presents for 
the divine pair. No doubt in other centres of sun cults 
—and we have seen that most of the patron deities in 
the large centres were solar gods — similar rites were 
observed, so that the celebration in Babylon centring 
around Marduk and his consort Sarpanit, of which 
we know many details, represents a combination and 
elaboration of ancient traditions. The gods were car- 
ried about in solemn procession, bringing their homage 
in common with that of mankind to the great solar deity 
who had become the head of the pantheon, Nabu came 
from Borsippa to pay a visit to his father enthroned 
in E-sagila. fll The festival lasted for ten days, during 
which interval the gods were supposed to assemble in 
the "sacred chamber of fates/' there to decide the fates 
of the individuals for the coining year, with Nabu 
acting as the secretary and recording the divine and 
unalterable decisions. A sombre character was thus 
given to the festival, the ritual for which included 
penitential hymns, embodying appeals for forgiveness 
of sins and for divine mercy. The Babylonian- Assyrian 
akUu, as the New Year's festival was called, became 
the prototype for the New Year's season of the He- 
brews, which likewise embraces a period of ten days 
and closes with a solemn fast, the main burden of which 
is the confession of sins and the appeal for forgiveness 
BO that one may be "inscribed for life for the coming 
year," as the phrase in the Jewish ritual inns. The 
seventh month, as the beginning of the second half of 
the year which was divided into twelve lunar months, 02 
also acquired a sacred significance; it marked the 
season of the final harvest, preceding the beginning of 
the rainy season. The transition motif thus also 

" See above, p. 217. 

63 Regulated to accord with the solar year through intercalating 
a month at certain intervals. 



dominates the fall festival which, like the one in the 
spring, appears to have extended over a considerable 
part of the month. Indications point to its having beet) 
marked by the rejoicings incident to a harvest festival, 
though the approach of the wintry season of the year 
must have tempered the joy. There are indications 
that the Babylonians, from a certain time on, recog- 
nized two "New Year's ' ' seasons, 03 one in the spring 
which remained the official one, and one in the fall 
which appears to have been suggested by the agricul- 
tural and climatic conditions of the Euphrates Valley. 
The period of the summer solstice was also marked 
by a festival, though we are still in the dark as to the 
character of the ceremonial prescribed for it; it is 
eminently likely moreover that we will come across 
some rites marking also the winter solstice. Besides 
these occasions, marking the transition from one season 
to the other, the two transition periods in the phases 
of the moon, the new moon and the full moon, were 
festive occasions, the former characterized by rejoic- 
ings at the reappearance of the silvery orb, the latter 
of a more solemn aspect as marking the transition to 
the waning of the moon. 

Lastly, a few words as to the belief of the Baby- 
lonians and Assyrians regarding the fate of man after 
death has set in. In common with all peoples of 
antiquity, Babylonians and Assyrians believed in the 
continuation of conscious existence in some form in the 
grave. As an heritage of the limited mental horizon 
of primitive culture, they could not conceive of life once 
begun coming to an absolute standstill. The analogy 
between sleep and death, and the constant renewal of 

** See Jastrow, Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, II, p. 462, 
and now with further details, Weidner, Alter und Bedeutung der 
Babylonischen Astronomie und Astrallehre (Leipzig, 1914), p. 31, 



life in nature after its apparent extinction reinforcec 
the popular conception that the dead, though con- 
demned to inactivity, yet retained consciousness. The 
fate of the dead was, however, a sad and gloomy one. 
Earth burial being the prevailing method of disposing 
of the dead among both Sumerians and Akkadians, 
the dead were pictured as huddled together in a great 
cave under the ground to which the name Aralu was 
given. In poetic compositions e4 this dwelling place is 
at times spoken of as a city and again as a palace, but 
the conception loses noue of its gloomy aspects by such 
terms. In Aralu the dead lie, like prisoners, bound 
hand and foot, unable to move, doomed to perpetual 
inactivity, subject to pangs of hunger and thirst unless 
their needs are provided for by surviving relatives 
through food and drink placed on the graves. The 
method of burial remained at all times exceedingly 
simple. In earlier days it appears to have been cus- 
tomary to bury the dead naked in the ground, in later 
days to cover them with reed mats, or to enclose them 
in large earthen jars or barrels and to place them in 
subterranean vaults of a simple construction. No doubt, 
in the case of the riders and of the high officials more 
elaborate methods of burial were introduced, but in 
striking contrast to conditions in Egypt, we find little 
care bestowed on the preservation of the body. Liba- 
tions and sacrifices were offered to the dead, pots and 
jars with food were placed near them in the vaults, and 
in later periods models of objects needed by them, as 
well as ornaments, trinkets, and perhaps toys for the 
children. There was a special pantheon for the dead 
presided over originally by a cruel goddess, Eresh- 
kigal or Allatu, to whom af terwards Nergal, the grim 
god of mid-summer, associated with sickness and death, 
is assigned as a consort. The pair act as prison keepers, 

«*See p. 454, and for further details Chapter IV on "Hebrew 
and Babylonian Views of Life after Death,*' in Jastrow, Hebrew 
and Babylonian Traditions (New York, 1914). 



assisted bv a host of demons, headed by Namtar, the 
demon of pestilence, in keeping the dead confined 
within the gloomy hollow, portrayed as dark and dusty. 

The faint beginnings of a timid reaction against 
this primitive conception are to be seen in tales of 
favorites of the gods to whom a happier future is 
accorded. So the hero who escapes from the deluge is 
removed to a land at the confluence of streams, and 
there enjoys a genuine immortality like that of the 
gods. 65 Another hero, Gilgamesh™ described as two 
thirds god and one third man, may in one version have 
also been accorded this boon, but in the composite story 
of his achievements which became current as the 
national epic of Babylonia, he is pictured as fearing 
death like the rest of mankind. His companion, 
Eabani, who is associated with him in some of his deeds 
of prowess is obliged to submit to the "law of the 
earth" as it is called, and from the tomb sends Oilga- 
meah a message describing the state of the dead in the 
nether world. The last word on the subject is there- 
fore a note of despair, an injunction to enjoy life as 
long as it lasts, for after death all joys cease. 87 

That under the circumstances the ethics of the 
Babylonians and Assyrians were nevertheless of a 
relatively high order, as seen in the laws, the regula- 
tions of the courts, in the methods of business, in the 
family relationships, and even in the attitude of the 
kings towards their subjects speaks well for the whole- 

w See p. 452. 

•• See Chapter XXIII of the author *s Religion of Babylonia and 
Assyria (Boston, 1898). 

• 7 See pp. 461-463. 

"Further details in Chapter V, "Hebrew and Babylonian 
Ethics," in the author's Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions (New 
York, 1914), and Chapter VI, "Ethics and Life after Death." in the 
author's Aspects of Religions Belief and Practice in Babylonia and 
Assyria (New York, 1911). See also "Maxims of Conduct," pp. 



some influence exerted by the religion. 68 No doubt the 
constant fear of the demons acted as an impelling mo- 
tive in inducing the people to maintain favorable re- 
lations with the gods, paying tribute to them by sacri- 
fices and gifts, seeking out their shrines to obtain 
directions through the priests for proper conduct, tak- 
ing the necessary steps to ascertain the meaning of 
signs sent by the gods, imploring their forgiveness 
when divine anger had manifested itself in one way or 
another, but apart from all purely material motives 
there must have been a serious realization of the obliga- 
tions resting upon ruler and people alike to regulate 
their lives according to fixed standards which, with 
due recognition of their limitations, must yet have been 
of a high order. The gods, as we have seen, were 
pictured as on the whole kindly disposed toward man- 
kind, acting from motives of justice tempered with 
mercy. Such conceptions must have reacted favorably 
on the disposition of the masses to carry out in their 
own lives the example set by the divine rulers from 
whom they believed all blessings to flow. The hope of 
obtaining these blessings, which were in the main of 
a purely materialistic order — long life, plenty of off- 
spring, ease, comfort and joy — were no doubt the main- 
spring of conduct, as they still dominate the general 
ethics of the masses at the present time; but such is 
the complicated and contradictory nature of man that 
ideals may spring up from a materialistic foundation. 
This was the case in the civilization of Babylonia and 
Assyria, When Hammurapi, the great and rather 
ruthless conqueror, declares as his highest ambition to 
be remembered as a "father to his people," 69 we can 
no longer doubt the sway exercised by religious con- 
ceptions and by ethical aims, quite independent of the 
material rewards to be expected by following the 
standards of right and justice. 

ae In the Introduction to his famous code. 



We are fortunate in possessing the code of laws 
according to which Babylonia was governed in the sec- 
ond millennium before this era. This code, the oldest 
compilation of laws in the world, inscribed on an obelisk 
of black dioritc standing about eight feet high, was 
found in 1901 iu the course of excavations conducted 
under the leadership of M. J. de Morgan on the site of 
the ancient city of Busft. The monument, dating from 
the reign of Hammurapi (c. 2123-2081 B.C.), was origin- 
ally set up in the temple of Marduk at Babylon, known 
as E-sagila ("the lofty house") whence it was carried 
as a trophy of war by an Elamitie conqueror in the 
twelfth century B.C. A striking feature of this code, 
written in Babylonian, is its comprehensive character, 
covering as it does almost all phases of public and social 
life in Babylonia. No less significant is the circum- 
stance that the code reverts to an older Sumerian 
original of which some fragments have been found, 1 
so that Hammurapi *s share in this great compilation 
appears to have been limited to preparing a translation 
of the older and later laws of the country into the Semi- 
tic speech and to publish the Code officially as the laws 
of the country for all times.* 

1 See Clay, Orientalisiische Litteratuzdtung, 1914, Sp. 1-3, 
* Clay copies of the Semitic text were prepared, of which the 
University of Pennsylvania possesses a large fragment, published 
by Dr. Arno Poebel, Historical and Grammatical Texts (Phila. 
1H14) No. 93. The first publication of the Code with phototype 
reproductions, transliteration and translation into French, we owe 
to Vincent Seheil (Delegation en Perse, Memmres, Vol. IV., Paris, 
1902, pp. 11-162) ; an English translation with the original text 
and transliteration, as well as a complete glossary was published by 
the late Prof. R. F. Harper, The Code of Hammurabi (University 




There are indications in the code itself of its being a 
mixture of older with later elements. It opens, in I 
with two statutes which show the ordeal as a test of 
guilt still in force; it assumes in certain instances the 
lex talionis as the basis of punishment, but by the side 
of such primitive views and procedures, it contains 
many statutes revealing an advanced stage of society 
with highly developed ethical principles and elaborate 
means of establishing the guilt of the~one accused of a 
crime or misdemeanor, with correspondingly nice dis- 
tinctions in the endeavor to bring about a coordination 
between guilt and punishment, and accompanied also by 
efforts to curb parental and marital authority. 

The reason for the retention of old laws by the side 
of later ones lies in the view 7 common to antiquity of 
law as a divine decree — an oracular decision of a deity. 
The Hebrew word for law, torah, has its equivalent in 
the Babylonian tcrfu which means an " oracle. 1 ' The 
decision in a dispute between parties was rendered by 
the deity and originally no doubt before the image of 
the god. It was, therefore, binding for all times. But 
while it could not be abrogated, modifications were 
introduced which practically changed its tenor, and 
since these modifications take on the form of regulations 
superimposed on the original law, the old was formally 
retained by the side of the new. Thus in the oldest code 
of the Hebrews — the so-called Book of the Covenant 
(Ex. 21-23, 19) — slavery, while formally recognized, 

of Chicago Press, 1904} ; another English translation in convenient 
form we owe to C, H. W. Johns, The Oldest Code of Laws in the 
World (Edinburgh, 1903) ; the best German translation is that of 
Prof. Arthur Ungnad in a publication in conjunction with Prof. 
J. Kohler, Hammurabi's Gesetz (5 parts, Leipzig, 1901-1911), con- 
taining in addition to the translation comments on the legal aspects 
by Prof. Kohler, and a selection of business and legal documents 
of the Hammurapi period, illustrating the application of the code 
in actual practice. The spelling of the name with " p " appears to 
be a more correct form and is now generally adopted by scholars. 




is changed practically into an indenture by the stipula- 
tion that when one buys a slave, he must be set free at 
the end of six years. So in the code of Hammurapi 
the lex talionis is not infrequently modified into a fine 
regarded as a quid pro quo, in place of the original 
literal interpretation. We are not in a position to 
indicate the age of the oldest portions in the laws of 
Hammurapi, but from an important document of the 
reign of a far earlier ruler, Urukagina (c, 2700 B.C.), 
we learn of legal reforms instituted by him, 3 which pre- 
suppose the formulation of the laws for the regulation 
of temple fees, of marriage and divorce, of restitution, 
of wrongful acquisition of property, and the like. We 
are, therefore, safe hi assuming that as early at least as 
3000 B.C., and probably considerably earlier, the en- 
deavor was made to provide for the orderly conduct 
of public and private affairs of the country by legal 

The code of Hammurapi is thus not only an index 
of the state of law in the second millennium, but is 
also a witness to the high antiquity to which the formu- 
lation of laws in the Euphrates Valley reverts. Taking 
Hammurapi 's code as it stands, it is both interesting 
and important to detect the systematic manner in 
which the statutes are put together. 4 After a series of 
introductory regulations on evidence and judicial de- 
cisions, the entire domain of law under the two aspects 
of things and persons is divided into six groups, Per- 
sonal Property, Real Estate, Trade and Business 
Relations being treated under the former aspect, and 
the Family, Injuries and Labor under the second 

Under Personal Property, we have theft of objects, 
further subdivided according as the theft is from a 

3 Thureau-Dangin, Sumerisch-Akkadische Konigsinschriften, pp. 
44-56. See above p. 130. 

4 1 follow Professor D. G. Lyon's admirable analysis in the 
Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. xxv, pp. 250, seq. 





temple or palace or from an individual, kidnapping a 
minor, fugitive slaves, aggravated forms of theft, as 
burglary, highway robbery, robbery with murder, and 
theft from a burning house. Under Real Estate there 
are first treated the laws regarding the holdings of st 
officials with their duties, rights and restrictions, and 
covering such subdivisions as the loss of one's holdings 
through various causes, the relation of the holder 
claimants, inalienable holdings of animals or realty. 
There follows the division of private realty with sub- 
divisions like hired fields and payment of rent, unre- 
claimed land, subletting, payment of debt on one 
mortgages, damages to fields and crops, laws in 
to orchards or date groves, leasing of productive gro 
lease of houses, etc, 5 Under Trade and Business, the 
regulations for suits against or by merchants and 
peddlers, wine-selling, debts, suits for debts, s 
and deposits. 

This closes the first of the two larger divisions deal- 
ing with things. Among the most interesting f< 
of the code arc the statutes in the second division, treat- 
ing of the family in all of its many aspects, inelud 
the definition of marriage, adultery, the suspect v 
remarriage, desertion, divorce, rights of wives, relation 
of wives to concubines, slave wives, deserted wife, 
mutual responsibility of wife and husband, killing of 
husband, incest, breach of promise, dowries, rights of 
children, status of widows, daughters who became 
votaries, adopted children and disinheritance. A 
second of the larger subdivisions takes up the important 
subject of injuries, specifying the punishment or fine 
in case the injury is done to males,— further distinc- 
tions being made as throughout the code between 

* There is a break in the text at this point, due to an intentional 

erasure on the part of the Elamitic conqueror who carried off the 
code, and who had intended to write a commemorative inscription 
of his own deeds on this part of the stone. For some reason this 
was not done. 




injuries to freemen and to slaves, — and to females, more 
specifically in the case of a woman with child who is 
maltreated. The third subdivision may be grouped 
under laborers and labor, and comprises injuries done 
by doctors, surgeons and veterinarians whose profession 
comes under the category of skilled labor, building and 
shipping accidents due likewise to laborers included 
under the head of skilful, while the other general 
category of unskilled labor covers such miscellaneous 
subjects as damages to or by oxen, farm bands, w r ages 
of shepherds and accidents caused by them, hire of 
laborers of various kinds and finally slaves. 

This carefully considered arrangement was on the 
whole consistently carried out, though it resulted in a 
certain confusion because of the necessity of treating 
the same subject (as, for instance, slaves and injuries) 
under various subdivisions instead of massing them 
together, and because of the addition of later elements 
in the form of modifications and special illustrations to 
the older subdivisions. 


Coming now to the code itself, it may be useful to 
give some illustrations of its provisions as a further 
means of grasping the spirit in which legislation in 
Babylonia was conceived. I have already referred to 
the survival in the code of the ancient ordeal as a 
punishment and as a test. After announcing in the 
first paragraph that the false accuser shall be put to 
death, it provides that if the accusation is sorcery, the 
one so charged shall be immersed in a stream. If, as 
the phrase runs, " the river (spoken of as the river 
god) holds him in his grasp," i.e., if he sinks and is 
drowned, his guilt is established and the accuser ob- 
tains possession of the sorcerer's property; if, however, 
the river deity acquits him, Le. t if he does not drown, 
the one accused obtains possession of the property of 
his accuser, 



Now nothing could conceivably be more primitive, 
and from the point of view of modern justice more 
absurd. The stipulations, however, well illustrate the 
ancient point of view that all decisions in cases of doubt 
rest with the gods. The contestants bring their suit 
before the deity, who through a sign or an oracle renders 
a verdict, 6 and as a survival of such beginnings of legal 
procedure, the custom continues to prevail till the la 
days in Babylonia to have the court of justice within 
the temple or the temple precinct, and to have priests as 
the representatives of the deity to act as the judges, 
though, as we shall see, not exclusively. The circum- 
stance that the accuser shall receive the property of 
the accused in case the latter 's guilt is established, and 
that the former shall forfeit his own property in case 
of a false accusation, also shows a point of view totally 
different from the principles upon which our ideas of 
justice rest. A fine or compensation for a false accusa- 
tion seems reasonable, but that the accuser should re- 
ceive a reward for an accusation which turns out to be 
correct reveals social conditions that antedate the exist- 
ence of rational equity. There is an advance to a higher 
stage in the third paragraph which provides that he 
who bears false witness or who cannot prove his testi- 
mony in a criminal case involving life or death, shall 
himself incur the death penalty. Here the principle 
underlying the lex taUonis comes into play. Since the 
testimony, if established, would lead to the death of the 
accused as a punishment, the false witness — and he who 
cannot prove his testimony falls within that category — 
should receive the punishment which is involved in the 
testimony itself. The application of the same principle 
leads to the further statute, that if the case is a civil 
suit involving as the phrase runs *' grain or money," or 
as we say merchandise or currency, the penalty im- 

In the Book of the Covenant — the oldest of the Pentateuchal 
codes — the phrase to have a lawsuit stUl runs "to bring before god" 
(Ex. 21, 6). 



posed in case the testimony is correct falls on him who 
has borne false testimony, or who cannot prove that to 
which he testifies. 

A fifth paragraph which concludes the section of 
the code devoted to what we may call general legal pro- 
cedure tells us that the judge who renders a decision 
duly attested and sealed and then changes the decision 
shall himself be called to account in court, fined to the 
amount of twelve times the sum involved and expelled 
by a popular assembly from his " judgment seat/' 
that is, deprived forever of his judicial f mictions. 

Since a deity cannot make a false decision, it fol- 
lows that a judge who does so does not represent a 
deity. Such a person is a fraud — practically an incon- 
ceivable contingency, and therefore the code merely 
provides for the conceivable case that a judge changes 
his decision. Since a deity cannot in the nature of the 
case do so — an oracle being both the first and the last 
resort — the judge who is guilty of this misdemeanor 
logically forfeits his claim to act as the representative 
of a deity. It is from this point of view that the statute 
with its severe punishment must be considered. The 
appeal, which in modern law is considered in many 
instances the privilege of the accused or of the loser 
in a suit, is thus precluded by the very nature of a de- 
cision as conceived by the Babylonian spirit. The law 
as an " oracle," is infallible ; hence the judge, too, must 
be infallible. 


Passing to the next group of statutes dealing with 
the general subject of theft of property, we again note 
as a curious principle a distinction according as the 
object stolen is sacred or profane. Under sacred 
property is included whatever belongs to a temple or to 
a palace, for the palace is also sacrosanct as the dwell- 
ing of the king, who is originally also a priest and who 
continues to be regarded as the representative of the 




deity even after the differentiation of his religious from 
his secular functions. The palace is always adjacent to 
the temple, and indeed the two edifices are viewed under 
the same aspect, the temple being the dwelling of the 
deity and the palace the temple of the deity's repre- 
sentative on earth. Taking temple or royal property, 
therefore, is sacrilege and he who is guilty of the act 
is put to death, as is also the one who receives such 
stolen property. Such is the original law as it stands 
without qualification (§§ 6-7). A later paragraph 
(§8) makes an exception in the case where the object 
is an ox, sheep, ass or pig — that is a domesticated ani- 
mal — or a boat. A fine of thirty- fold the value is im- 
posed, whereas if the stolen animal or property is from 
a plebeian, the fine is only ten-fold, but if the thief 
have not the wherewithal to pay, that is if he does not 
or cannot pay the fine, he is put to death. Evidently 
there is here a concession to the milder spirit of a more 
advanced period which revolted against the forfeiture 
of life independently of what was stolen. The old rigid 
law is retained in theory, but the practice is modified 
apparently on the principle that it is not sacrilege, but 
merely a particularly grievous offence to take from a 
temple or palace something that is not directly con- 
nected with the cult, the specification of a domestic 
animal or a boat being introduced as an illustration of 
the conditions under which the milder punishment of 
a heavy fine is substituted for capital punishment. 

A principle which, dating apparently from an early 
stage and quite consistently carried out, is the aggrava- 
tion of a crime through the proof of intentional fraud. 
For this reason the receiver of stolen property, if aware 
of the theft, suffers the severest punishment, and from 
this point of view the one who aids a slave to escape, 
whether from the palace or the city gate, or harbors a 
fugitive slave, is put to death (§§ 15, 16, 19) — a cruel 
law indeed from the modern point of view, but intelli- 
gible on the basis of the Babylonian principle that con- 



nivance in depriving a man of his legal property is more 
reprehensible than direct theft. The severity of the 
code is, however, one of its less favorable features which 
points to the retention in it of enactments reflecting a 
crude state of civilization, for the progress of law is 
towards mildness and indulgence, whereas the further 
back we go the greater the severity of punishment, 
approaching often to merciless cruelty. The number 
of instances in which death is prescribed as a 
punishment may serve as a test for this aspect of the 
code. That man-stealing 7 and brigandage (§§14 and 
22) should have been regarded as capital crimes is 
natural, but that a purchase made without witnesses 
or a formal contract should involve a death punishment 
( § 7), on the assumption that a claim made under such 
circumstances points to fraud has a meaning only from 
the Babylonian point of view, that fraud is estab- 
lished by the mere absence of a formal contract. The 
punishment no doubt rests on a provision that every 
purchase must be confirmed by a contract, but to extend 
the law beyond the establishment of the validity of a 
transaction indicates extreme crudity in its interpreta- 
tion. The primitive law of retaliation accounts for a 
large number of the instances in which death is set 
down as the punishment, as, for example, that in case 
of the collapse of a defective building, the architect is 
to be put to death if the owner is killed by the accident, 
and the architect's son if the son of the owner loses his 
life (§§ 229-230), or that if through a blow inflicted 
by some one on a man's daughter, the latter dies, the 
daughter of the one who inflicted the injury should be 
put to death (§ 210). It is significant that these pro- 
visions occur within a group of statutes (§§ 195-225) 
all dealing with the application of the primitive lex 
talionis, just as we find traces of this law in the Penta- 

7 The specific case instanced (§ 14) is the case of a man stealing 
a minor, but no doubt the application is general. 


teuchal codes. 8 The one who destroys the eye of an- 
other shall lose his eye; if he hreaks a man's bone, his 
hone shall be broken, and if he knocks out I man's tooth, 
one of his teeth shall be knocked out. It is likewise the 
extension of the same principle which provides that a 
physician who performs an unsuccessful operation re- 
sulting in the loss of a patient's eye or in the patient's 
death should have his hands cut off, or that in case a 
veterinary operates on an ox or ass and the animal dies, 
one fourth of its value should be restored to the owner. 
The very extension of the principle while leading to 
crudities also paves the way for a juste r valuation of 
damages. It is still a most absurd application of the 
principle which leads to the enactment that if a nurse 
to whom a child has been entrusted and who substitutes 
another child in place of the one so entrusted which 
has died on her hands, the woman is to have her breasts 
cut off so as to deprive her of the possibility of the 
repetition of the crime (§ 194), but on the other hand 
a more advanced stage is represented by the provisions 
for suitable compensation in the case of bodily injuries. 
So immediately following the direct enunciation of the 
lex taVionis in regard to destroying a man's eye or 
breaking his bone (§§ 196-197), we find the provision 
converting the underlying principle into a basis for 
adequate compensation. The fine for destroying the 
eye of a plebeian is one mina * of silver, whereas in ease 
the injured party is a slave, only half of that sum is 

8 Hurt for hurt, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc., with additions 
and variations in the three principal codes, viz,, Ex. 21, 24 (code 
of Covenant) ; Dent. 19, 21 (Deuteronoraic code) ; Lev. 24, 20 (Holi- 
ness code). 

A mina (or mana) is 60 shekels. The actual silver value of a 
shekel is less than 50 cents in modern coinage, hnt is a standard 
coin in antiquity. Its purchasing value , fluctuating according to 
commercial activity, was much higher — perhaps at times as much 
as five dollars in our days. 




This distinction of classes in fixing of fines and 
punishments is characteristic of the code throughout, 
and follows as a natural corollary from the principle 
of the lex talionis which thus reveals its hold even after 
the stage of literal interpretation had been passed. 
With class distinctions recognized in all walks of life, 
it was a logical conclusion to connect with the aim of 
bringing about a just proportion between punishment 
and crime — which is the basic principle of the lex 
talionis — a differentiation according to the rank of the 
injured party. A free plebeian being of higher grade 
than the slave, and the nobleman above both, the ille- 
gality was regarded as of a higher or a lower severity 
corresponding to the difference in ranks. In other 
words, while according to modem ideas a crime is viewed 
independently of the one by whom or on whom it is 
committed, ancient law as long as it remained under the 
influence of the lex talionis could not dissociate the 
act either from the actor or from the one who suffered 
through it. So if a man injures another, the fine varies 
according as one strikes a person of superior rank, in 
which case public whipping — sixty strokes with a 
leather thong — is prescribed (§ 202), w T hereas if one 
strikes a man of one 's own rank, a fine of one roina of 
silver is imposed, though in the case of any plebeian 
striking a plebeian, the fine is only ten shekels of silver, 
that is one-sixth of a mina (§ 204). A slave, on the 
other hand, is more severely treated, his ear being cut 
off in case he strikes a man's son (§ 205), as an ade- 
quate punishment for the assault; and we may con- 
jecture that in this case the abandonment of the more 
literal application of the lex talionis, which would have 
suggested that the slave's hand be cut off, was due to 
loss in the value of the slave as property through such 
a punishment, A further advance in the direction of 
more humanitarian justice is indicated in the provisions 


for the case that a bodily injury is inflicted without 
intent. According to the original spirit of the lex 
talionis this element does not enter, but Hanunurapi's 
code stipulates that if a man can swear, 4i I did nut 
strike with intent " in a quarrel with another, he is let 
off with the payment of the doctor's bill; and in case 
the victim dies of the blow, a fine of half a mina is im- 
posed if the one who has inflicted the fatal injury be- 
longs to the general class of inhabitants, whereas a 
plebeian pays only one-third of a mina. A miscarriage 
as a result of an unintentional injury to a man's 
daughter entails a fine of ten shekels, for the daughter 
of a plebeian only five shekels, and for the daughter of a 
slave only two shekels. If the woman dies, in case she 
is the daughter of a plebeian, the fine is one-half of a 
mina of silver, for a female slave one-third of a mina 
of silver, whereas— curiously enough — the old law of 
lex talionis is retained in case the victim is the daughter 
of a free citizen, the code providing (§ 210) for such a 
contingency the death of the daughter of the man who 
has struck the blow which ended fatally. The lex 
talionis as the basis of adjustment between a crime or 
an injury and the punishment or fine leads by a natural 
evolution also to an equitable compensation for benefits 
conferred as well. Under this aspect, the physician's 
fee in case of a cure through an operation or otherwise 
is regulated with regard to the value of the cure. A 
successful operation which saves a man 's eye is valued 
at ten shekels in the case of an ordinary citizen. A 
plebeian pays only five shekels, and the owner of a 
slave two shekels to the physician who has saved a 
slave's eye. For setting a broken bone or for an ordi- 
nary physical trouble, the fee is five shekels if the 
patient is a free citizen, three shekels for the plebeian 
who is throughout the code a somewhat privileged per- 
sonage, obliged to pay less, whether a fine or a fee, and 
for the slave two shekels paid for as usual by the master. 
The Code in the same way endeavors to regulate the 



cost of building a house, the hire of boats and even of 
animals. That such regulations are all viewed under 
the general aspect of the lex talionis in its double ex- 
tension to all kinds of injuries on the one hand, and to 
benefits on the other, is shown by the juxtaposition of 
the building and hiring stipulations with losses incident 
to such agreements, whether through neglect or through 
unforseen causes. In fact the principle of compensa- 
tion involved in the primitive lex talionis — its under- 
lying justification as it were — becomes the starting 
point for the further development of justice in the 
regulation of dealings of man with his fellow. Responsi- 
bility for damage or loss of cargo on a boat hired to 
carry goods to any place rests on the boatman, if care- 
lessness on his part can be proved. The cargo must be 
replaced as well as the boat ; and in case the boatman 
succeeds in refloating the original boat, a compensation 
to the extent of one-half of the value of the boat is to be 
given the owner, to make good the diminished value of 
the boat by reason of the accident (§§ 237-238). In 
the case of a collision between two boats resulting in 
the sinking of one, it is assumed that the ship moving 
up stream is responsible as the one which could more 
easily get out of the way. The owner of the boat lost 
in going down stream must make a sworn declaration 
of his loss, which as well as the boat or its value must 
be made good by the owner of the other boat (§ 240). 

The hire of oxen, of field-laborers and of herdsmen 
is similarly regulated by law (§§ 242-243; 257-258), 
and the same distinction made between accidents due 
to neglect and such as could not have been prevented 
Thus the one who hires an ox or an ass cannot be held 
responsible if the animal is killed by a lion. The owner 
in that case must bear the loss (§ 244), but if the death 
of the hired animal is caused by neglect or abuse, its 
value must be restored ; and the further attempt is made 
to regulate the extent of loss through an injury to the 
animal. The loss of an eye involves a fine of one-half 



of the value of the ox, the breaking of a horn, or the 
cutting of the tail or injury to its flesh through the 
yoke, one-fourth of its value, but if the injury is such as 
to ruin the usefulness of the animal, as, for example, if 
its foot is crushed or it is hamstrung, then an ox of 
equal value is to be restored to the owner (§§ 246-248). 
If an ox gores a man as it goes through the street, this 
is regarded as an unavoidable accident and entails no 
penalty (§ 250), but if the ox has been known to be 
vicious, and the owner has been warned and its horns 
have not been tied up, I penalty of half a niina of silver 
is imposed if the ox fatally gores a man of the ordinary 
class, and if it be a slave one-third of a mina (§§ 251- 

The two large fields of activity in ancient Baby- 
lonia were agriculture and commerce. In the endeavor 
to regulate on an equitable basis the obligations resting 
upon those who own and those who rent fields for pur- 
poses of cultivation, as in the complications arising 
from contracts and agreements entered upon by mer- 
chants and money lenders, the code is equally explicit. 
A few extracts from the sections dealing with these 
phases of activity will suffice to illustrate the principles 
underlying the regulations. In renting fields for culti- 
vation, the stipulation was in general (a) a return 
through a percentage of the yield, according to the size 
of the property, calculated on an average crop and 
applying to both fields and date-tree orchards, or (b) 
through a division of the yield in terms agreed upon, 
with further special provisions in the case of virgin 
fields. The general term of rent was for one year, ex- 
cept in the case of virgin soil where the term was 
usually for three years. 10 The code provides that in 
case the failure of the crop can be traced to the neglect 
of the tenant, the latter is responsible for the share 

10 See further below pp. 327 and 349. 



according to the contract, on the basis of the yield in 
adjacent fields; and if in addition it is shown that he 
has not even cultivated the field, he must till and harrow 
it before returning it to the owner ( §§ 42-43) . Similarly 
in the case of a virgin field, rented out for three years, 
if the tenant neglects to carry out his obligation to till 
it properly, he must return the field in the f ourth year 
hoed and harrowed, and band over to the owner a re- 
turn on the basis of ten Gur for every ten Gan " (§ 44). 
If, on the other hand, the failure is due to causes beyond 
his control— an inundation or lack of sufficient rain — 
the tenant is not obliged to make any return for that 
year, and a new contract is made for the ensuing year 
(§ 48). If, however, an inundation occurs, ruining the 
produee of the field after the tenant has already paid 
the share of the crop due to the owner — who presumably 
therefore is entitled to the first yield — the tenant must 
bear the loss (§ 45). 

Pasturing sheep in a field without an agreement and 
without consent of the owner entails as a fine a return 
of twenty Cur of grain for each ten Gan, or double 
the amount of the ordinary rate of return for letting out 
a field for cultivation; and under aggravated circum- 
stances when the owner of the flock deliberately turns 
his flock into another's field, sixty Gur for each ban 
Gan, the assumption in the former case being that the 
sheep strayed into another's field (§§ 57-58). In the 
case of money obtained as a loan with a field as security, 
the interest may be paid in the yield or directly accord- 
ing to the usual rate of interest. If the latter is stipu- 
lated and the debtor cannot pay cash, then he must pay 
from the crop at the market, rate of its value; nor can 
the obligation in either case be avoided if the crop is a 
failure. The contract is valid even though it is stipu- 

11 A Gur is about 120 litres and a Gan about 6y 2 Ka. or 25 
acres. The amount is, therefore, based no doubt on the average 
yield, 1200 litres for 250 acres, i.e., about twenty per cent, of the 
total crop. 



lated that the interest is to be paid in the crop of that 
year. The basic principle is throughout that agree- 
ments must be made in good faith on both sides, and 
that exemption from obligations can only be claimed 
if circumstances beyond control arise, and then only if 
the agreement is of such a character as to justify the 
assumption that the agreement was not to be kept in 
such a contingency. 

This principle is well illustrated in a series of laws 
to regulate the relationship between a wholesale mer- 
chant and his retail agent who acts as a salesman or 
negotiator. When the transaction is directly in cash 
which the agent is to use in mercantile enterprises, the 
latter is to hand in a detailed account, and interest is to 
be charged according to the length of time for which 
the money is used ( § 100) J 8 In other words it is not an 
ordinary loan for a stipulated time, for which no special 
provision need be made, but an agreement with some 
one acting as the representative of the merchant. The 
responsibility rests upon the agent, who takes all risks 
except that of being robbed. If he swears an oath to 
this effect, he is free of obligation (§ 103), but failure 
of the enterprise through any other cause entails a 
fine of double the amount received (§ 101). This seems 
hard and it is strange that the law should not have been 
content with the return of the capital plus the interest. 
One suspects that such a provision is a survival of the 
period when transactions of this kind involved great 
risks on the part of the merchant who was thus to be 
protected against fraud by the agent, who could easily 
pretend not to have been successful. In accord with 
this we find a fine of threefold the original sum imposed 
as a fine in case the agent is convicted of fraudulent 
intent (§106). On the other hand, the agent is pro- 
tected against any improper advantage being taken by 
the merchant by a written accoimt of what he takes on 
11 There is a large gap just before this paragraph ao that the 
enumeration of paragraphs from this point on is merely approximate. 



commission — grain, wool, oil or anything else — and by 
taking a receipt duly sealed in the presence of witnesses 
for the money which he returns to the merchant ( § 104), 
though it is also stipulated that failure to take such a 
receipt does not oblige the agent to pay it again if he 
can prove that it has been paid (§ 105) — a stipulation 
which impresses one as a later judicial decision rather 
than as a logical inference. If fraudulent intent is 
proved against the merchant, the latter must refund 
as the fine six times the amount paid by the agent 
(§ 107). In case the money is given to an agent as a 
favor, by which presumably is meant that the agent 
does not take it as his risk, in case of failure to carry 
out the enterprise, only the principal need be returned 
(§ 102). This stipulation again impresses one as of 
later origin to obviate the earlier and entirely too 
severe law which placed all the risks on the agent In 
this way the agent could choose the conditions on which 
he might act for another, or at all events the oppor- 
tunity would be afforded of avoiding the consequences 
of the earlier law, provided an express stipulation was 
made that the agent received the commission u as a 
favor " — which must be regarded in this instance as a 
technical term to designate a commission without in- 
curring all the risks in case of failure of the enterprise. 


It is interesting to note also the endeavor of the 
Code to protect the debtor against undue pressure and 
maltreatment when seized for debt, evidently with a 
view of counteracting abuses that had crept into 
practice, and which had given creditors a merciless 
hold upon those who had been unsuccessful in their 
enterprises. The general point of view of the Code is 
still that a man who contracts a debt which he finds 
himself unable to pay is a criminal, even though free 
from criminal intent He is treated as such in later 
law codes (down almost to our own days), when debtors 



could be thrown into prison. No one has the right to 
incur an obligation which he is not certain of being 
able to carry out. At all events if he takes a risk, he 
must endure the bitterest consequences. Apparently 
in Hammurapi *B days a member of the debtor's house- 
hold could be seized as a hostage by the creditor and 
kept as a prisoner in the hitter's house till a settlement 
was made, or he might seize the debtor's slave or his 
son, holding him as a hostage ; and if the one so seized 
dies while a prisoner through natural causes, there is 
no charge to be brought against the creditor (§ 115). 
This was going pretty far, and evidently to prevent the 
possibilities of foul play, it is provided in what is clearly 
a later statute, modifying the earlier one, that if it can 
be shown that the one seized for a man's debt died 
through blows or other inhuman treatment (as, for 
example, starvation), then the old lex tali on is comes 
into play, and if the debtor's son is the victim, then the 
son of the creditor is put to death, and if it is a slave, 
then one-third mina of silver is imposed as a tine, and 
the debt is forfeited (§ 116). An unwarranted seizure 
for a hostage entails the same fine as in the case of a 
slave being seized and allowed to die through abuse — 
one-third of a mina of silver ( § 114), but the debt is not 
forfeited, which shows that even in Hammurapi *fc code 
the advantage was always on the side of the stronger, 
except when fraudulent intent or deliberate injury can 
be proved. From this point of view it is as much as 
could be expected that if a creditor, holding a debt of 
grain or money against a man, reimburses himself out 
of the debtor's granary without the latter's consent, 
the creditor shall be called to account, return what he 
has taken, and because of his greed forfeit the total 
amount of his debt (§ 113). The aim of the statute 
is clearly to protect the debtor against a wilful and 
cruel creditor, who even though he is entitled to what 
he lias taken, commits a crime because not acting by 
order of the court* The statute implies that the proper 



procedure is to bring the case before a judge, and to 
secure an execution to seize the debtor's granary for 
the amount It marks a considerable advance thus to 
insist upon legal procedure, even when there is no ques- 
tion of what is due to the creditor. In another direction, 
the Code evidently aims to modify the hard condition of 
the debtor, who under the primitive view that wife and 
children are part of a man's chattels, could sell them for 
debt and, indeed, was in certain cases probably forced 
to do so. To curb the ancient practice without abolish- 
ing the underlying principle, the Code provides that if a 
man is held for debt and sells his wife, son or daughter 
or hands them over to the control (sc. of the creditor), 
he can do so for only three years. In the fourth year 
their freedom must be given them (§ 117). The pro- 
vision, evidently made in the interest of the debtor's 
family, practically changes the legalized sale into an 
indenture, precisely as the old Hebrew law, desirous 
of abolishing slavery in so far as it affected members 
of the group, converts the sale into an indenture of six 
years. 15 On the other hand, male or female slaves 
sold for debt may be further disposed of by the mer- 
chant into whose possession they pass. An exception, 
however, in the further interest of more humanitarian 
conditions, provides that a maid who has borne children 
to her master, if sold for debt, is to be ransomed by her 
master when he is able to do so. 

Deposits with any one of gold or silver or anything 
else must be made in the presence of witnesses and 
the exact terms stipulated. Accordingly, a claim for a 
deposit without witnesses and written agreements is 
invalid. If these conditions are fulfilled, and the one 
with whom the deposit has been made disputes the 
claim, a fine of double the amount is imposed on the 
fraudulent trustee (§§ 122-124). The trustee is re- 
sponsible for what he receives on deposit, and in case 

18 Above p. 288. 



through his neglect, it is stolen or otherwise removed, 
he must restore the full loss to the original owner, but 
may reimburse himself if he succeeds in regaining the 
lost property ( § 125 ) . A supplemental provision covers 
the case of a false claim on the part of one who has 
made a deposit, entailing a fine of double the amount of 
the claim, which must be set forth in detail before a 
decision is rendered as to its being false or not (§ 126). 


Almost one-fourth of the Code is taken up with the 
regulation of family relationships, including such sub- 
jects as adultery, false accusations, divorce, rights of 
wives, slave wives, desertion, widows, adoption, rights 
of daughters, and disinheritance. Taken together, 
these family laws, as we may collectively call them, 
throw more light on social conditions prevailing in 
ancient Babylonia than any other portion of the Code ; 
and since in addition they furnish further illustrations 
of legal procedure and of the underlying principles of 
justice, it is worth while in concluding our analysis of 
the code to take up some features of these laws. 

A wife is still viewed as an acquisition, and there- 
fore no marriage is valid without a contract (§ 128). 
Divorce can be granted in case of a childless marriage, 
but the marriage gift, as well as the dowry which the 
woman has received from her father's house, must be 
returned to her; and if there was no marriage gift 
the husband must in that case give his wife a mina of 
silver 1 * — an amount which is reduced to one-third in 
case the husband belongs to the plebeian class (§§ 
138-140). Two other causes for divorce are (a) im- 
proper conduct on the part of the woman or (b) in- 
compatibility between husband and wife. If the 
improper conduct goes no further than that the woman 

14 An older ( T) law (Rawlinson, V., PL 25, col. iv, 8-13) fixes 
the amount at one-half of a mina. 



is in the habit of going out and, as the Code puts it, 
" commits indiscretions/ ' neglects her house and hus- 
band, then the husband has the choice of dismissing 
her without giving her anything, or he may reduce her 
to the rank of a maid and take another wife in her 
place (§ 141). If, however, the woman goes further 
than this and lays herself open to suspicion, she is 
thrown into the river, by which is presumably meant 
that she must submit to an ordeal (§ 143). Incompati- 
bility is expressed by a euphemistic phrase to indicate 
her unwillingness to have sexual intercourse with her 
husband. If it can be shown that she is otherwise with- 
out reproach, or that her husband has neglected his 
duties towards her, then the woman receives her dowry 
and returns to her father's house (§ 142). This is as 
far as the Babylonian law goes, but the advance over 
former conditions may be seen from an older Sumerian 
law which stipulates that a woman who refuses to have 
intercourse with her husband is to be thrown into the 
river, 15 without further investigation as to the cause 
or whether the woman is otherwise without reproach. 

The authority of the husband was at one time abso- 
lute, as was the authority of either parent over the 
children. The father or mother could disinherit the 
son by the formula, ** thou art not my son,'"* which de- 
prives the son of all rights and privileges; " he is ex- 
cluded from house and wall " — as the phrase runs, 
while the son who disowns the authority of his father 
or mother by the formula, "thou art not my father, " 
or, "thou art not my mother," is branded as a slave 
and sold if he rebels against his father, and branded 
and driven from home and town if he rebels against his 
mother. 17 

The Code endeavors to curb this absolute authority 
without denying the principle — on the conventional 

18 Bawlinson, V,, PL 25, Col, iy, 1-7. 
M lb,, Col. ii, 34-39. 
17 lb., Col. ii, 22-33. 



supposition that a once existing law cannot be annulled, 
because it represents a divine decision. In the case of 
the son, it provides that the father must bring his inten- 
tion to disinherit Ms son to the notice of the court. A 
decision of the judges is needed and the judges are 
instructed to inquire into the merits of the case. If 
they find that the son has not been guilty of a crime 
sufficient to justify the disinheritance, the father is 
restrained fnmi carrying out Ms intention (§ 168); 
and the law goes even further in providing that the 
first offenee must be condoned. Only in case of a 
second offence, can the disinheritance be regarded as 
legal (§ 169 J. The older and severer law, however, re- 
mains in force in the case of an illegitimate child or one 
of low estate who, if he says to Ms foster father, u thou 
art not my father," or to his foster mother, " thou art 
not my mother," i.e., if he rebels against their author- 
ity, has Ms tongue cut out. In case the son discovers the 
identity of Ms father, and rejects his foster parents in 
order to return to Ms father 's house, Ms eye is plucked 
out (§§ 192-193), the principle involved being that such 
a child if once adopted belongs absolutely to the foster 
parents and cannot be reclaimed (§ 187). A trace of 
the older status of absolute authority of the pater- 
familias is to be seen also in the provision that a legally 
adopted child cannot be reclaimed after it has been 
reared, but then follows immediately the later modifica- 
tion that if the child after being taken, longs (?) for 
Ms father and mother, it must be returned to hie 
father's house (§§ 185-186). The purpose of the 
modification is to protect the child against forcible 
adoption. Similarly, the adopted child must be given 
the same status as the other children, and if that is not 
done he may return to his father's house even after he 
has been reared. According to the Babylonian laws an 
artisan may adopt a child who is apprenticed to him, 
and after the former has taught the apprentice Ms 
trade, no claim can be put in, but if he fails to teach the 



child a trade, he may return to his father's house, that is, 
the contract of adoption is annulled (§§ 188-190). 

The Code recognizes the legitimacy of the children 
of a handmaid or concubine, provided the father during 
his lifetime recognizes them as his own by pronouncing 
the formula "my children" in regard to them, that is, 
by a formal adoption. In that case they share in the 
paternal estate equally with the children of the main 
wife. If the formal adoption has not taken place, then 
the children of the handmaid have no share in the 
estate, but on the other hand protection is given to 
them by the grant of their freedom after the death of 
the father; and it is specifically provided that the chil- 
dren of the main wife have no claim on the service of 
their half-brothers or sisters. A man's heirs are his 
children — not his wife. His widow receives her dowry 
and the marriage gift on the death of her husband and 
is allowed to remain in her husband's house as long as 
she lives, but she is not allowed to sell it, for it belongs to 
her children (§ 171). If no marriage gift has been 
made, then the widow receives in addition to her dowry, 
an amount equivalent to the share of a son. The widow 
is further protected from maltreatment by her children, 
who may not force her to leave the husband's house 
without good cause. If, however, she leaves of her 
free will, then she forfeits the right to the marriage 
gift, but can dispose as she pleases of the dowry and is 
allowed to marry whom she pleases (§ 172). On her 
death, the dowry shall be divided between the children 
of the first and second marriage, or if there is no issue 
from the second marriage, then the dowry goes to the 
children of her first marriage (§§ 173-174). In no 
case, therefore, does the husband receive the dowry. 
A widow whose children are still minors cannot marry 
without the consent of the court. To obtain that con- 
sent an inventory of the estate must be made, and the 
woman and her second husband must agree by a written 
contract to administer the estate for the benefit of the 



children whom they are obliged to rear. They may not 
dispose of the estate, and he who makes such a trans- 
action forfeits his claim (§ 177). The children inherit 
the dowry of the mother. If the mother dies, and the 
husband takes a second wife and has children by her 
also, upon the death of the father the children of the 
first wife receive the dowry of their mother, and after 
this is deducted the paternal estate is divided between 
the children of both wives (§ 167). Under ordinary 
circumstances it would appear that the estate was 
equally divided, but the father had the right to favor 
one son if he so chose. In that case the special property 
— field, orchard or house — is given outright to the son 
so favored, and the balance of the property divided 
(§ 165). The question must have arisen whether a son 
who had not reached the age of majority on the death 
of the father should receive the same share as the 
others. The Code provides that if all the other sons 
having reached the age of majority are married, that 
is, have established households of their own, they shall 
set aside from the estate an amount equivalent to a 
marriage gift ia for the minor brother so as to enable 
him to take a wife (§ 166). 

18 A passage like this proves that the marriage gift or settlement, 
as we would say, is made by the bridegroom, but is deposited 
with the bride's father for her benefit. The dowry on the other 
hand is given by the bride's father to the prospective son-in- 
law. Of the two customs, the marriage gift on the part of the hus- 
band appears to be the older, — a survival of the custom of marriage 
by purchase, dating from a time when the husband owned his 
wife and children as part of his chattels. The dowry, on the other 
hand, while originating likewise from the days when a child was 
obliged to do service for the father and representing the pay for 
such services on the change of the daughter's status to become the 
property of another, nevertheless represents a higher stage of society, 
recognizing the obligation not to send the daughter away empty- 
handed — as though she were merely a piece of property, thus dis- 
posed of. 




These instances will suffice to illustrate the great 
care that was taken to prevent, as Hammurapi says in 
the introduction to the Code, " the strong from oppress- 
pleased. Even prior to the promulgation of the Code, 
throughout is to protect those who need to be secured 
against an advantage that may be taken of them — 
wives, widows and minor children* The attempt was 
also made to make the position of daughters more secure 
than it must have been in an earlier period when the 
father had the right to dispose of his daughters as he 
pleased. Even prior to the promulgation of the code, 
the period had been passed when fathers could sell 
their daughters to their husbands. The dignity of 
marriage and of family life had been recognized to 
the extent that the father gives the daughter a dowry 
on her marriage, and that a portion of the estate is 
settled upon her, though the latter does not appear to 
have been obligatory. It is expressly provided, how- 
ever, that if the father fails to give his daughter a 
dowry, she is entitled to a share in the estate on the 
father's death equivalent to that of a son, with the re- 
striction, however, that after her death it reverts to her 

From an early period, the custom of devoting 
daughters to the service of a deity continued in force 
down to the end of the Babylonian- Assyrian monarch- 
ies. In the earliest fonn of this custom, such votaries 
were sacred harlots. We know of several classes of such 
votaries at the temple of Nana in Uruk, 1 * and it is more 
than likely that they formed part of the organization in 
every religious centre. In how far prostitution prac- 
tices were carried on as part of the temple rites we do 
not know, but the circumstance that in Babylonia and 
Assyria, the lay prostitute had a certain standing may 

"Shurpu Series (ed. Zimmern), Tablet V-VI, 145-147. 



be taken as an indication that prostitution retained, 
from its connection with the ritual, a measure of 
sanctity which it is difficult for us from the modern 
point of view to appreciate. But besides acting as 
sacred prostitutes, female votaries performed other 
services including certain distinctly priestly func- 
tions. 20 Such votaries and priestesses never entered 
into wedlock. The Code, accordingly, makes special 
provisions for them and places, as we have seen, the 
lay prostitute in the same category. Strange to say, 
however, the latter is placed on a par legally with a 
bride, whereas the sacred prostitutes, of which the Code 
recognizes two classes — the kadishtu ("pure" or "holy") 21 and zermashitu ("disregarding or negl< 
ing the seed") 22 — receive, in case no dowry is given 
to them, only one-third of a son's portion after the 
father's death (§ 181), presumably because these 
votaries were provided for by the temple organization 
to which they belonged, whereas the lay prostitute was 
under necessity of making her living by her trade. The 
kadishtu and zermashitu could not dispose of their 
inheritance, which reverted on their death to the male 
heirs, whereas a votary attached to the Marduk cult at 
Babylon could dispose of her portion, and will it to 

*° See the list of the various classes of priestesses occurring in 
legal and other documents given by Frank, titudicn zur Babylo- 
nisthen Religion, pp, 47-50, and which can be still further extended. 
Kings set the example by devoting one of their daughters to the 
service of a deity. See the illustration in the author's Bildermappe 
zur Religion Bdbylaniens und Assyriens, Nr. 26 and Dhorme's 
article "La fille de Nabonide," in the Revue d 'Assyriologie, xi, 
pp. 105-117. 

21 Sumerian Nu-Gig = kadishtu, (Briinnow, Classified List No. 
2017). The same term kedesha is used in the Deuteronomic Code 
(Deut. 23, 18) as well as the masculine kadish for such female and 
male votaries, which were forbidden by the Hebrew legislation. 

" Nu-Par = zermashitu (Meissner, Seltene Assyrische ld*o* 
gramme, No. 1147.). 



whomsoever she pleased ( § 182) . A genera! name for a 
woman attached to a temple was " entu " or " woman 
of a deity." Such votaries lived in a separate portion 
of the temple known as "dormitory" and equivalent 
to our nunnery, but there were also votaries who were 
not so confined. The Code is severe on a votary who 
opens a wine-shop, which was the brothel in Babylonia 
and Assyria, for the penalty is death by burning, and 
this law is applied also to a votary or mm who even 
enters a wine-shop, the assumption being that she does 
so for purposes of prostitution with men who congre- 
gate there (§ 110). In passing it may be noted that 
the Code assumes that the proprietors of these wine- 
shops or brothels are women ; they appear to have been 
women of the lowest class — quite different from the lay 
prostitutes. They naturally had a most unsavory repu- 
tation. Outlaws gathered in the dens kept by these 
women, and the Code provides that if a woman harbors 
such outlaws sought for by the courts, she suffers death 
as a punishment (§ 109). 

The Code still recognizes, as a survival of an earlier 
day when the leading idea connected with marriage was 
to provide for offspring, the right of a wife to give her 
husband a concubine whose children would be recog- 
nized as though they were her own. We are familiar 
with this custom from the incident in the cycle of 
Abraham stories where the childless Sarah transfers 
her maid Hagar to her husband (Gen. 16, 3), and Bilhah, 
the maid of Rachel, is given to Jacob so that "she may 
bear on my knee and I acquire offspring through her " 
to indicate that Bilhah 's children will be regarded as 
hers (Gen. 30, 3). Such a concubine, however, did not 
have the rank of a wife (§ 145). With this as a start- 
ing point, the Code endeavors to protect both the wife 
and the concubine, the former by providing that in case 
she does bear children, the husband may not take a 
concubine (§ 144), the latter by stipulating that the 



mistress, that is, the legitimate wife, may not sell the 
concubine who has bora her husband children, but she 
may place a slave mark upon her and reckon her with 
the slaves (§ 146). In case, however, the concubine has 
not born any children, then the mistress may sell the 
concubine (§ 147) who, it is assumed throughout, is as 
in the case of the Biblical parallels the property of the 
wife — a special handmaid. 

It was not obligatory for a father to give a daughter 
who becomes a concubine a dowry. If he does so, then 
she has no further share in the property of her father 
upon his death (§ 183), whereas if he does not do so, 
then the brothers after the death of the father must 
give their sister a dowry proportionate to the amount 
of the paternal estate (§ 184); and it is furthermore 
provided that they shall provide a husband for their 
sister. In both cases it is assumed that the concubine 
may be given by her father to a husband. In the former 
case he does so, in the latter he does not. It would seem 
therefore that the term concubine is applied in the 
Code in a double sense, (a) as the handmaid of a wife 
brought to the husband for the purpose of bearing 
children and (b) as an additional wife, not having the 
status of the man's wife, but at the same time not a 
handmaid of either the husband or of the wife. Bear- 
ing in mind the Biblical parallels, the older practice 
appears to have been that in the case of a childless 
marriage, the wife brings to her husband her own hand- 
maid, whereas with more advanced social conditions 
husband could choose any woman as his concubine and 
place her in his household as a legitimate wife, though 
subservient in status to the chief wife. The concubine 
thus becomes the partner or rival of the first wife 
parallel to the case of the two wives of Elkanah, Han- 
nah and Peninnah in the story of Samuel (I Sam. 1, 6) 
where Peninnah is spoken of as the "rival" or part- 
ner of Hannah in the possession of the husband. 




The old severity towards those who endangered the 
sanctity of the marriage tie or of family relations was 
maintained in full rigor. The woman caught in the 
act of adultery is thrown into the water together with 
the culprit, though an additional clause gives the hus- 
band or the king the right to spare the woman's life if 
either feels so inclined (§ 129) — a provision intended 
no doubt to cover cases where extenuating circumstances 
existed. If a betrothed woman is forced to the act 
which takes place in her father's house, the culprit is 
put to death but the woman goes free (§ 130), and if 
the woman accused by her husband of adultery can 
swear an oath that she is innocent, she may return to 
her husband's house (§ 131). If, however, another 
than her husband accuse her, then she must submit to 
the ordeal by throwing herself into the water (§ 132). 
The assumption in all these cases of course is that she 
has not been detected in the act. The punishment for 
the one who brings an accusation of adultery but can- 
not prove it is to be branded on the forehead (§ 127), 
and this applies to such a charge brought against a 
votary as well as against a wife. 

Starting from the principle that a man must pro- 
vide for his wife, the Code adds a number of decisions 
to distinguish between desertion and enforced absence. 
If a man is captured but there is provision made by him 
for his wife she must remain faithful to him. If she 
fails to do so, she is to be thrown into the water ; but if 
the husband fails to provide for her, she is free from 
blame if, as the phrase in the Code reads, "she enters 
the house of another " (§§ 133-134) ; and if she bears 
children to her second husband, and then the first one 
returns, she is to be taken back by her first husband, 
while the children from the second one are placed in 
charge of the father (§ 135). Such cases arose fre- 
quently in consequence of the numerous wars in which 



the petty states and afterwards the united states of the 
Euphrates Valley were engaged, as a consequence of 
which wives might be in doubt whether their captured 
husbands would ever return. Making provision for 
the wife was, however, taken as an indication of the 
husband's intent to return, and therefore, the woman 
was bound to him until she heard that he had perished. 
The same would apply of course to a husband absent 
from home on business, and it is interesting to compare 
with the Code the discussions and decisions on the com- 
plications arising from such circumstances in the 
Talmudical treatise setting forth the Jewish practice, 1 * 
with the same endeavor to distinguish between enforced 
absence and actual desertion. On the latter subject, 
the Babylonian Code is brief and explicit. The woman 
can marry another, and if the first husband returns, 
she is not to go back to him ( § 136). 

Lastly, as a further illustration of the aim of the 
Code to maintain proper standards in family relations, 
we may instance the series of punishments for incest 
which will also show the grades of such conduct recog- 
nized. The man who violates his own daughter is driven 
out of the city, that is, loses his right of citizenship 
(§ 154). If a father violates the son's betrothed after 
the son has known her, he shall be bound and thrown 
into the water; but if the son has not yet known her, 
then the man is let off with a fine of half a mina of 
silver; he also restores to the girl whatever she may 
have brought from her father's house, and the girl may 
marry whom she pleases (§ 155). The point of view 
is that found generally in primitive society which looks 
lightly upon sexual intercourse with a woman before 
marriage or before she has known the man to whom 
she is promised, but is exceedingly severe upon the 
same act with a married woman. As a consequence even 
the illicit intercourse between a father and his virgin 

*■ Treatise Kethubin, foL 110b. 



•daughter does not entail the severest punishment, 
whereas if a son has intercourse with Jus mother after 
his father's death, both are to be burned (§ 157). If, 
however, the intercourse be with one of his father's 
wives who is not his mother, he is merely expelled from 
the family, because the grade of incest is less than in the 
case of his own mother (§ 158). The distinction, how- 
ever, appears to belong to a later age. Breach of 
promise is treated from two points of view. A mar- 
riage representing primarily an agreement between 
the father of the bride and the prospective husband, a 
refusal to marry may emanate from the latter, and a 
refusal to give in marriage from the former. If the 
prospective husband rejects his bride merely because 
he prefers another woman, that is to say without ade- 
quate cause and he has already fixed a marriage gift 
for the girl, and in accordance with prevailing custom 
has given the father-in-law the present which takes 
the place of the older purchase-money for a wife, then 
the father-in-law retains the settlement. If the father 
of the bride refuses to give his daughter in marriage 
after the gift has been turned over, then double the 
amount is to be returned to the bridegroom. If the 
father-in-law, after the marriage settlement has been 
given, refuses to abide by the agreement because he 
listens to the defamation of his son-in-law, to some idle 
gossip from a " friend," the same fine of double the 
amount of what had been given is imposed on the 
father-in-law. The " friend " who slandered the bride- 
groom is not permitted to marry the girl (§§ 159-161). 
The three cases are set down as typical and form the 
basis for deciding other cases that may arise. 

The Code closes (§5 278-282) with a series of enact- 
ments regulating dealings in slaves. As a protection 
to the purchaser it is stipulated that if within a month 



a purchased slave is taken with a bennu sickness 2 ** 
which incapacitates him, he is to be returned to the 
seller and the purchase money given back, the assump- 
tion being that the slave was not what he or she was 
represented to be. In accord with this, the seller is re- 
sponsible in case of a prior claim on the slave, in which 
case the sale is likewise invalid. Similarly, a sale of a 
slave is invalid if made in a foreign land and the owner 
of the slave recognizes his former property when the 
slave is brought into the district in which the former 
owner dwells. Such a slave is granted his freedom if 
he belongs to the district in which the original owner 
dwells, but if slaves sold under such circumstances be 
not natives, they are to be bought back by the former 
owner. The law is of interest as pointing to an en- 
deavor to protect slaves against being bandied about 
without regard to their feelings of pride. The court 
decides that a slave who is not sold directly through his 
master gains his freedom if he is brought back to the 
district to which he originally belonged. In this way a 
restriction was placed on traffic in slaves. The law in 
thus assuming that a slave is purchased to be put into 
service and is not to be regarded as mere merchandise 
marks a decided step in advance to protect the dignity 
of human life. To be sure, the underlying principle 
that slaves are chattels is maintained, and the right is 
accorded to the owner to dispose of him, but if he is 
sold to a foreigner and in the course of time is resold 
and brought back to his native place, his dignity is 
protected by his being granted his freedom. In this 
case, the Code proceeds on the principle found in 
modern law emptor caveat. The purchaser takes the 
risk and should assure himself of the circumstances of 
the slave's provenance before closing the bargain. On 
the other hand, to prevent an abuse of the privilege, the 
old law providing that a slave who rebels against the 

**» Perhaps epilepsy. See below p. 343 seq. 



authority of his master is to have his ear cut off is 
added (§ 282), to cover the case also of a slave who 
has run away and who is not under any conditions to 
have the privilege of securing his freedom through a 
fortuitous chain of circumstances, or by a fictitious sale 
in a foreign district. The Code of Hamniurapi is par- 
ticularly severe on any one who aids a slave to escape 
or who harbors a runaway (§§ 15-19), death as a 
penalty being imposed precisely as in the case of man 
stealing (§ 14) ; and if a slave escapes from the person 
who has captured him, the latter must swear an oath to 
that effect (§ 20), so as to free himself from the sus- 
picion of having connived at the escape. On the other 
hand, a reward of two shekels is to be given to the one 
who returns a runaway slave (§17). 


We may now pass on to some illustrations of the 
manner in which existing laws were applied in the 
regulation of commercial transactions, which cover an 
exceedingly wide scope from actual sales of houses, 
land, orchards, goods, cattle and slaves to loans of 
money or chattels, rent of houses or fields, deposits, 
transfer of property, covering also legal transactions 
such as contracts of all kinds, including marriage deeds, 
division of estates, partnerships, hiring of laborers, 
commercial agencies and testaments. 24 Incidental to 
such transactions and contracts, we have numerous 
cases of lawsuits brought before a tribunal which, after 
an examination of the facts, renders its decision on the 
basis of the prevailing statutes. In this way, a con- 
stant succession of new cases is brought before the 
judges, and each new decision carries with it some 
supplement to the recognized code. Law in Babylonia 

2 * See the admirably arranged bibliography for this section of 
Babylonian- Assyrian literature in Johns, The Relations Between the 
Laws of Babylonia and the Laws of the Hebrew Peoples (London, 
1914), pp. 76-S9. 



and Assyria is thus a progressive process, and as we 
pass from older to later periods, we can follow in detail 
the modifications in both legal procedure and practice 
incident to the growing complications of commercial 
expansion and the various forms of social activity. The 
many thousands of legal and business documents found 
in the course of excavations and that have been pub- 
lished up to the present time thus unfold a picture of 
the inner life of the communities in both the south and 
north, which complements the data to be derived from 
the annals and votive inscriptions of the rulers and 
from the official correspondence in the form of letters, 
orders and reports of all kinds. 

A striking feature thus revealed for a very early 
period, the time of the Ur dynasty (c. 2450-2330 B.C.) 
and for several centuries before this age, is the great 
business activity displayed by the temple organizations 
in the larger centres. As an example we may instance 
the extensive temple archive discovered at Telloh, the 
site of the ancient centre Shirpurla or Lagash, 25 the 
most extensive of the kind that has as yet come to light. 
The temples in this early period owned extensive lands 
which were either farmed out with stipulations of ade- 
quate returns of the yield, or were directly cultivated 
through a large body of officials connected with the 
temple organization. The temple accounts were most 
accurately maintained, records being kept of all trans- 
actions, of purchases or sales, of the income from temple 
property, of the wages assigned to the many workmen 
engaged, and the numerous other details involved in the 
management of temple property. Receipts were given, 
and records made of offerings and gifts for the temple 
and of taxes or contributions that were levied. Such 
receipts of which there are hundreds upon hundreds 
give us lists of animals — cattle, sheep, goats, asses, 

,B For a list of the chief publications of tablets from Telloh, see 
Myhrman, Sumerian Administrative Documents dated in the reigns 
of the Kings of the Second Dynasty of Ur, pp. 13-15. 



birds and fishes — tliat were brought to the temple, as 
were all kinds of produce from the fields — fruits, vege- 
tables, grain, flour, oil, perfumes and the like. The', 
riders in these early periods still exercised priestly; 
functions, or at all events were so closely associated' 
with the temples that the management of their affairs 
formed an integral part of the activities of temple 
officials. We find hundreds of accounts dealing with they 
royal exchequer, gifts and allowances apportioned to the 
members of the royal household, records of expenses in- 
curred in connection with the royal estates, special lists 
of royal offerings to the gods, payments to palace officials 
and to the numerous body of workmen coming directly 
under the authority of the palace, and more the like. 
The functionaries of the temple and palace include 
commercial agents, overseers of workmen, gardeners, 
grain measurers, shepherds, fishermen, butchers, super- 
intendents of temple and palace granaries, storehouses 
and stables, beside various classes of priests, diviners, 
doorkeepers, guardians, scribes and judges, including at 
a very early period female votaries and active priest- 
esses attached to temple service in various capacities. 

Completing the picture of the extensive activities 
of temple and palace, we have hundreds of lists of pro- 
duce of the field brought to the temple by the officials, 
wool from sheep, garments, oil, bread, salt, spices, 
silver, bronze, beverages, lists of workmen, of barges, 
inventories of slaves, salary accounts, memoranda of 
provisions for voyages of temple and palace officials, 
of food for the cattle and the flocks, and more the like. 

What applies to Telloh holds good for the other large 
centres like Nippur which likewise yielded an extensive 
temple archive 26 as a result of extended excavations 

20 Above, p. 46. Many temple documents from the older and 
later Babylonian periods are included in the series of publications 
of the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania by Myhrman 
(Ur dynasty), Poebel and Ranke (1st Babylonian Dynasty) and 
Clay (Cassite and later periods). See above p. 50, note 66. 



merchant to Ur-Ish-Bau, the pashishu priest,* 2 is confirmed, Lu- 
shimashu being the maskkim. Ur-lanima patesi, year when Bur- 
Sin became king. ' ' 

The attest is dated in the accession year of King 
Bur-Sin of the Ur dynasty corresponding to c. 2374 
B.C. Such formal attests by which transactions between 
individuals were made binding were deposited in the 
temple archives, which thus in very early days must 
have had a division corresponding to the office of the 
recorder of deeds in our days. The official character of 
these attests, embodying also decisions in disputed cases, 
follows also from the circumstance that two entirely 
different transactions were c< unbilled on one tablet. An 
instance of this kind dealing with purchases of slaves 
by different parties reads as follows : 38 

"Judicial settlement: 6V 2 shekels of silver, the price of (the 
woman}, Nin-mu-nanga-mu, Lugal-azag-zu has received from Daga. 
Daga has confirmed this on oath in the presence of Tr-Bau and 
Dadaga as witnesses, Albamu, the sukkallu;* being the mashkim." 

*'Two shekels of silver, the price of Shab-gu-bi, the slave of 
Lu-kaui, which Lu-kani has received from Ama-shim, Dadaga 
claims from Ama-shim. Ba-ni-nibi, Lu-ab-sa and Ganab-ka (?) 
are witnesses to this, Lugal-Dungi being the mashkim." 

The only point of contact between the two trans- 
actions is the probable identity of the witness Dadaga 
in the first attest with the claimant in the second case, 
but it is not likely that tins circumstance has anything 
to do with the combination of the two transactions. The 
second case introduces as a new feature of judicial 

** A class of the priesthood, whose function, to judge from the 
name, was to act as "anointer," — perhaps they were also the ones to 
prepare the oimnents. See above p. 272. 

** Thureau-Dangin, Recueil, etc., No. 294. 

14 Designation of some high functionary, acting as the repre- 
sentative of the ruler, somewhat like a viceroy. A god associated 
with a superior deity is often spoken of as the sukkallu of the 
higher one. 



procedure the method of placing an injunction on a 
commercial transaction. Ama-shim owes Dadaga some 
money which apparently is due. To secure this, or at 
least a part of the debt, Dadaga lays claim to the sum 
which Ama-shim, who is evidently in hard straits, has 
received through the sale of a slave. Dadaga goes to 
the mashkim with his witnesses who testify to the debt, 
and obtains an order from the court for the money. 

We have among documents of this order an interest- 
ing one from which it appears that at a very early date 
slaves with a family could not be transferred without 
their consent from one master to another. A judicial 
decision in such a case reads : 8a 

"Judicial settlement (in the ease of) Till, a slave, Nitidam, his 
wife, with son and daughter were sold for y 2 mina of silver by 
Ana-khane . . . to Aba-bil-gimshu. 

"The declaration of Nitidam, the wife of the slave, to be restored 
is confirmed (sc. through witnesses). The male and female slave 
with son and daughter are confirmed for Ana-khane, Ur-Lamma, 
son of Kalla, being the mashkim and Lu. . . , and Lu-Urash-gal, 
Lu-Dingirra and Ur-Ka-silim being the judges." 

Marriage agreements were likewise confirmed be- 
fore the notary in the presence of judges whose decree 
thus takes the place of a modern license. A document 
of this order reads : w 

"Judicial settlement: Ninmar, son of Lu-Nannar, appeared 
and said, 'In the name of the king t aT Lu-Dingirra, son of Guzani, 
is to marry Damgula, my daughter. * Arad, son of Ur-lamma, and 
Ur-ahid, son of Lu-Nannar, take an oath to this.* 8 Lu-dingirra 
has been married to Damgula." *• 

*• Thureau-Dangin, Recueil, etc., No. 290. 

■• Scheil, in Recueil des Travaux relatifs a la Pbilologie et 
TArcheologie Egyptienne et Assyrienne, xxii, p. 153-154. 

* 7 I.e., an oath invoking the king's name. 

n Confirmed the declaration of the father. One of the witnesses, 
be it noted, is the brother of the bride. 

*• Such is the court 's confirmation. 



"Ninmar for a second time appeared and said: ' Nin-azag-zu, 
daughter of Guzani, is to marry my son, Sib-kini.' It is attested 
that the name of the goddess Ninmar and the name of the king 
were invoked in an oath. 40 Sib-kin i, the shepherd, has been married 
to Nin-azag-zu, Til-e-makh-ta being the mashkim, Lu . . . and Ur- 
ka-silim judges. In the year following the destruction of 
Simanu."* 1 

Here again a single document records two distinct 
transactions which presumably were settled in short 
succession of one another. Similarly, settlements of 
divorce were made before the notary. 42 

" Judicial settlement: Lu-Babbar, son of Nig-Bau, rejects Gin- 
Enlil (his wife). Gin-Enlil appeared and said: 'In the name of 
the king give me 10 shekels of silver in lieu of a judicial settlement.' 
He has paid her 10 shekels of silver. Duggi-ul and Uku-il, farmer, 
have sworn to this, Ur . . . being the mashkim. In the patesiate of 
Ur-Lamma." The year of the destruction of Kharshi and 
Khumurti." 44 

According to the older Sumerian law, a man on 
divorcing his wife must pay her one-half of a mina, 
which would be thirty shekels. 46 Apparently, Gin- 
Enlil has agreed under oath to be satisfied with less 
than that amount, and this being confirmed, the notary 

4 ° I.e. f witnesses confirmed the declaration of Ninmar by swear- 
ing to it. 

41 I.e., the fourth year of Gimil-Sin of the Ur dynasty, corre- 
sponding to c. 2361 B.o. 

** Thureau-Dangin, Rccucil, etc., No. 289. 

48 Potest of Lagash. 

44 58th year of Dungi, the second member of the Ur dynasty, 
corresponding to c. 2374 B.C. 

4& Rawlinson, V. f PI. 25, Col. IV, 8-12. In the days of Ham- 
murapi, the divorce settlement had advanced to one mana in ordi- 
nary cases, and one-third mana if the husband was of the plebeian 
class (Code §§ 139-140). See above, p. 302. 




formally records that the amount has been paid, and the 
record deposited in the archives of Lagash, where the 
settlement took place. 


Agreements could be made, however, between 
parties in the presence of witnesses without the inter- 
mediary of a mash hi m, and it is a reasonable conjecture 
that in time these formal attests became restricted to 
s where a dispute had arisen obliging the parties 
interested to appear before the court in order to have 
the terms officially recorded, or a decision rendered and 
deposited in the archives of the temple. The legal 
fonnulae for all kinds of transactions and contracts 
became fixed as early at least as 3000 B.C. A few speci- 
mens taken from the time of the Ur dynasty (c. 2450- 
2330 B.C.) will suffice to illustrate the general method 
followed. In the case of simple receipts for a loan made 
Of for produce delivered, names of witnesses are com- 
monly not added, but it is safe to assume also that the 
court would not ordinarily recognize such receipts as 
testimony unless they bore the seal of the party who 
had received the loan or produce. The case was, of 
course, different when it came to documents dealing 
with temple affairs, as most of the business tablets are, 
which have come down to us from the earliest period. 
Here the mere deposit of a receipt in the official archives 
would be a sufficient attest to the transaction. The 
formula for receipts reads as follows : 46 

"One-half mina of silver at an interest of one shekel for five 
shekels** from Ur-Dun-pa-e, Gir-ni-ni-shag has received, Month 

** Myhrman, Sumerian Administrative Documents dated in the 
reigns of the kings of the second dynasty of Vr (Phila., 1910), 
No. 22. 

47 I.e., at the rate of twenty per cent, per year. 


Gan-gan-e •• in the year when the lard of the goddess of Uruk 
appointed." 4 * 

A receipt for produce from the same Ur-Dun-pa-c 
reads : *° 

1 ' Three Gur of kharshu grain 8t at an interest of 90 Ka, " for 
each Gur, from Ur-Dun-pa-e, Ishme-ilu has received. Month Engar- 
du-a," 19th day, in the year when Siniuru was destroyed." ** 

In the same way a receipt for dates reads: 


"Two Gur of dates at the (usual) interest for each Gur," from 
Lugal-iskim-zi, Kalam-de(T)-e has received. Month She-kin- 
kud, ST first day."" 

Purchases are recorded in the presence of witnesses, 
the object being named first, followed by the price, the 
purchaser and seller, thirdly the witnesses and lastly 
the date. Thus the sale of a slave is recorded as 

"One male slave . . . -lum by name, for 11 shekels of silver, to 
Ur-E-Lugal-ani, Ur-Nusku, the commission broker* has bought. 

*■ Ninth month. 

♦•Perhaps "high priest," The date has not been identified. 

•• Myhrman, No. 23. 

11 We find a large number of such specifications of grains 
mentioned in these business documents the exact nature of which 
still escapes us ; they seem to designate qualities or special varieties. 

n A Gur equals 360 Ka, i.e., therefore, at a rate of 25 per cent. 

" Eighth month. 

B * 35th year of Dungi, corresponding to c. 2397 B.C. 

M Myhrman, No, 31. 

" That is, 25 per cent 

BT First month. 

"Year broken off. 

60 Myhrman, No. 15. 

•• Damkar — a general term for a commission merchant, and also 
for trader without specification. 


In the presence of Gudea, the MU of the archive, 81 Shu (T)-dug- 
ga-zi-da, the kalu priest.** 

as witnesses. Month Azag-Shim," 9th day, 6 * in the year when 
Bur-Sin destroyed Urbillum. * ' » 

An agreement to refund a sum advanced in connec- 
tion with some business transaction reads as follows : e6 

"One mana and ten shekels of silver, which as the balance of 
a transaction Lu-Babbar has received from Ur-Lukh. lie swears 
an oath in the name of the king to pay back on the seventh day 
of the month of Shu-Kul." In case he does not pay back (sc. at the 
time agreed upon), the amount will be doubled. Sworn to in the 
name of the king before Lugal-azag-su, Lugal-itu-da, A-Khush-a, 
Ur-Mami, in the month of Sig, a * the document (t) was drawn up, 
in the year when Gimil-Sin, king of Ur, built the great ship of Enlil 
andNinlil."* 9 

We also have at this early period formal agreements 
to become surety for repayment of loans. A document 
of this nature is worded as follows : T0 

11 In case the obligation of Ur-Enlil for 10 Gut of grain is not 
redeemed, that amount of grain Ur-Damu will bring in. In the 
name of the king he swore, Ur-shu-makh, Adda-kalla. Kalamma- 
ne-mu, Ut-shag-ga being witnesses. The year when Simuru was 
destroyed." n 

61 Literally " house of tablets," t.c, the official archives. The 
MU is some official connected with the archives. 

" The names of the other witnesses are broken off. 

•* Unidentified month, perhaps the 7th month. 

•* Indicated by 10— I = 9, like the Roman IX. 

M Second year of Bur-Sin, corresponding to c. 2372 b.c. 

•■ Myhrman, No. 13. 

* 7 Fourth month. 

" Third month. 

•• Eighth year of Gimil-Sin, corresponding to c. 2357 B.C. 

f0 Myhrman, No. 7. A detailed study of surety in Babylonia 
and Assyria with numerous illustrations from legal documents of 
all periods will be found in Koschaker, Babylonisch-Assyrisches 
Buergschaftsrecht (Leipzig, 1911). 

71 35th year of Dungi, corresponding to c. 2397 B.C. 



These specimens of legal forms perfected at an 
early period, will suffice to illustrate the general char- 
acter of such documents. Supplementing them by the 
many hundreds of business documents dating from 
the Ur dynasty, and which for the larger part are 
accounts of transactions and not formal contracts or 
agreements, we obtain a remarkable picture of the ex- 
tent of business activity in the third millennium before 
this era in the Euphrates Valley, both such as was car- 
ried on in the temples, and such as represent private 
business affairs. 12 

The usual rate of interest at this period was twenty 
per cent, for loans of money, and thirty per cent, in the 
case of produce. Slaves varied in price from two to 
twelve shekels, and no doubt in some cases the price 
went beyond the latter amount. Laborers were com- 
monly paid in produce, though occasionally in cur- 
rency. Wages were calculated at so many Ka 7S of 
grain per month of thirty days, varying from forty to 
ninety Ka. In addition we find the laborers receiving 
wool, dates, oil and drink in part compensation; and 
we also find commission agents of all kinds who engaged 
workmen, or who had them at their command to be hired 
out for any purpose. 

Prom the period immediately following that of the 
Ur dynasty, we have specimens of business documents 
which supplement the picture and furnish further 
illustrations of the manner in which purchases were 
made and agreements drawn up. Thus a document 
recording the purchase of a house shows the manner in 
which the property was described, beginning with the 

"Legrain, Les Temps des Hois d'Ur {Paris, 1912), Legrain 
gives (pp. 49-92) a survey of 389 texts of the Ur period published 
by him, and which may serve as an index of the scope covered by 
business documents of this character. 

" A Ka is about 4/10 of a litre. 



size of the lot and passing on to the terms of the transac- 
tion. It reads as follows : 7 * 

u Ttyb Gin improved property, adjoining the house of Ali- 
Akhati, with the long side facing the street, the house of Adad- 
rabi son of Ur-Innanna, from Adad-rabi, son of Ur-Innanna, 
Apil-Sin, son of Bulalum,, has bought. As its price in full 2^ 
shekels and 15 She of silver he weighed out. For all times, Adad- 
rabi shall not make any claim on the house. In the name of the king 
he has sworn an oath, before Sin-ganiil, son of Gubbani-dug, Elali, 
son of Nabi-ilishu, Ur-Ningishzida, son of Nurum (and) Azag- 
Nannar (as) the scribe. Month of Gan-Gan-e," in the year when 
King Sin-ikisham made a statue of gold and silver. ' ' T€ 

The names of purchaser and seller as well as some of 
the names of the witnesses are Semitic — an indication 
that we are approaching the period of growing Semitic 
influence as a reaction against the Sumerian predomi- 
nance in the Ur dynasty. 

A contract for the rent of a house, the ordinary 
period being one year, has the following form: 77 

"The house of Damu-ribam, from Damu-ribanij Sin-idinnam, 
the commercial agent/ 8 has rented as a dwelling and possession '• 
at a yearly rental of y a of a shekel of silver. In the presence of 
Sin-magir, son of Zibu'a, (and) Ina-ekur-rabi, 80 the scribe. First 
day of the month Shu-Kul,* 1 in the year when King Samsu-iluna, 
in accordance with the oracle of Enlil, etc."* 8 

74 Chiera, Legal and Administrative Documents from Xippur, 
Chiefly from the Dynasties of Isin and Larsa, (Philadelphia, 1914), 
No. 22. 

76 Ninth month, 180 She are one shekel. 

79 Sin-ikisham ruled for six months only, c. 2195 B.C. 

77 Chiera, No. 90. 

78 Or merhcant (damkar). See above p. 324 t note 60. 

79 That is, to do with it what he pleases, including therefore sub- 
letting for any purpose. 

80 Semitic name signifying "Reared in Ekur," the temple of 
Enlil in Nippur. 

81 Fourth month. 

82 Abbreviated dating for the 28th year of Samsu-iluna, corre- 
sponding to c. 2052 b.c. 



Despite the fact that this deed is dated in the reign 
of Hammurapi's successor, and that the parties in- 
volved as the witnesses and the scribe bear Semitic 
names, it is nevertheless written in Sumerian, showing 
that in old Sumerian centres like Nippur (whence this 
tablet comes), Sumerian continued in use as the official 
language of the court, just as Sumerian remained for a 
long time after the complete Semitic control of the 
country the language of the cult, though both in court 
proceedings and in the cult, Akkadian in time sup- 
planted the non-Semitic tongue, with a retention, how- 
ever, of Sumerian legal phrases that had become too 
incrustated to be entirely removed. 

Purchases and leases of fields for cultivation were 
drawn up in much the same manner. A document dated 
in the reign of a ruler of the Larsa dynasty reads : " 

"1 Gan and 10 Sar 8 * of a clover field, being part of a new ( I) 
field adjoining (that of) Nannar-me-du, son of Uru-ma>kal, being 
the field of Sin-eribam, son of Gir-ni-ni-shag, from Sin-eribam, 
the son of Gir-ni-ni-shag, Warad-Sin, the son of Khundunim has 
bought. As its full price of 2V3 shekels of silver he has weighed 
out. For all future time, neither Sin-eribam nor any heirs of Gir- 
ni-ni-shag, as many as there may be, shall have any claim against 
the field. In the name of the king they * 5 have sworn in the presence 
of Lugal-melam, son of Alia, Ur-pa-bil-sag-ga, son of Ehambia, 
Erib-Sin, son of Lugal ibila, Azag-Innina, son of Lul-Nin-shubur, 
Niir-Shamash, son of Sin-ishnieanni, Aba-Eulil-dim, the scribe, month 
of Bil-Bil«Gar, M in the year when Warad-Sin, the king, built the 
great wall of Ur." 8T 

Attached to the document is a reproduction of the 
seal of Sin-eribam, son of Gir-ni-ni-shag, rolled over 
the edge of the tablet twice as the attest of the seller. 

More complicated in their nature are business docu- 

"Chiera, No. 27. 

hi A Gan is about 25 acres and 10 Sar about 350 square metres. 

aB Le., Sin-eribam and the heirs of his father from whom 
field descended to Sin-eribam. 

•• I.e., fifth month. 

ST C. 2H0 b. c. 



ments dealing with such subjects as divisions of prop- 
erty. A case of this kind between two brothers leads to 
a formal agreement 8 * in which first the share given to 
the one brother is set forth, then in detail what the 
other one receives, both swearing to the decision in the 
name of the king to annul any further claims on the 
part of either. 

To equalize the division the younger brother also 
receives a certain amount of currency, from which one 
may conclude that a detailed inventory of the estate 
was made as the basis for the division. 

Priests, it would also appear, retained their private 
property despite their being attached to the service of 
a specific temple; they inherited their share of the 
paternal estate, and we have plenty of evidence to show 
that they conducted business affairs as individuals as 
well as in their official capacity* The priestly office 
held by the father was also transferred to his heirs 
and formed part of the estate. In view of this, it is not 
surprising to find that priestly offices could be leased 
at a valuation, calculated according to the income 
through fees and gifts. 89 

Of special interest is a document of the time of the 
Isin (or Nisin) dynasty which illustrates the privileges 
enjoyed by a class of slaves who were attached to the 
palace service; they could own property in their own 
names and pass it on to their heirs. The document in 
question, drawn up in the days of Bur-Sin II (c. 2220 
B.C.), is a deed of gift of a mother's property to the 
daughter, in return for which the daughter agrees to 
provide a specified amount of food for the mother every 
month. It reads as follows : 00 

"2/3 Sar improved property (and) Tuda-Ishtar, a female slave 
of Nin-me-dugga, the improved property and all its belongings, the 
property of Nin-me-dugga, her mother, which Nin-me-dugga to 

"Chiera, No. 12. 

■• E.g., Chiera, No. 15. 

•• Chiera, No. 1. 




Nin-dingir-azag-niu, her daughter, has given. For all times, none 
of the children of Nin-me-dugga, as many as there may be, will have 
any claim. Nin-me-dugga has sworn in the name of the king. 
Fifteen (!) Ka of provision Nin-dingir-azag-inu to Nin-me-dugga, 

her mother, monthly shall give. ' ' 

Nin-me-dugga has rolled lier seal over the document 
once, and no less than five times again over the envel- 
ope 91 in which the document was enclosed and which 
contains in addition, as a kind Of docket, the indication 
tA the contents of the document together with the date. 
The .seal designates Nin-me-dugga as M a palace slav 
that is, belonging to the harem of the ruler but Who, 
we have seen, could herself own a slave as well as other 

The business documents of the earliest period of 
Babylonian history thus complement the data derived 
from votive inscriptions and historical records proper 
by showing us the people in their daily life, how they 
lived, what their occupations were, the dealings they 
had with one another, the changing fortunes of life, the 
classes of the population, the position of the prii 
and the methods of the administration of justice. 


An abundance of further details in all these and 
other aspects of social life is furnished by the many 
hundreds of business and legal documents that have 
been preserved from the period of the definite union 
of the Euphratean states under the rule of the Semitic 
kings of Babylon, the period of the so-called first 

n In most cases where a document was placed in an envelope of 
clay, the outer case contained a duplicate of the text. The envelope 
served as a protection to the legal document. This fashion of 
having a duplicate of the document inclosed appears to have varied 
from time to timej it does not appear to have been obligatory at 
any time. 



dynasty of Babylon, extending from c. 2225-1926 B.C. 92 
In contrast to the business documents of the Agade, Ur 
and Isin dynasties which, as we have seen, are so largely 
taken up with mere accounts and lists connected with 
the temple organization in one centre or the other, those 
of the first dynasty of Babylon are of a much more mis- 
cellaneous character and for the most part taken up 
with transactions between laymen dealing with the 
ordinary business affairs and with more or less elabor- 
ate lawsuits brought by contending persons. There is, 
to be sure, every reason to believe that such documents 
will also be found some day in abundance for earlier 
periods, but for the present we must depend upon the 
material dated in the reigns of the rulers of the first 
dynasty and of subsequent periods for a more definite 
picture of business activities among laymen and of the 
manner in which justice was carried out in the courts 
of the land. The business and legal documents of this 
period, moreover, are written in Semitic or Akkadian 
which makes the task of interpretation less precarious, 
for despite recent progress in the interpretation of 
Sumerian texts, there is much in such material that is 
still obscure. When we reach Semitic texts, we are on 
firm soil. It is also a great advantage to have as a guide 
and control for the understanding of the business and 
legal documents of tins period the code of Hanunurapi 
of which we have for this reason given a rather full 
analysis. 93 This great code became a standard for all 
times, though as has been noted additions continued to 
be made to it, and modifications were introduced to keep 
pace with changing conditions and to embody new 
decisions that were constantly being rendered, albeit 
on the basis of the principles on which the code was 

" The definite determination of the chronology of this period 
we owe to the researches of P. X. Kugler, Sternkunde und Strm- 
dienst in Babel (Minister, 1910), ii, 1, pp. 234-311. 

• s Above pp. 283-315. 





Before giving some examples of business and legal 
documents of the period of Hammurapi, as we may also 
call the age of the first dynasty of Babylon from its 
most prominent representative, it will be well to out- 
line the methods perfected in his days for the legal 
administration of the country. 9 * In the first place, 
we note by the side of the older and original tribunals 
in the temples, entirely in the hands of the pries* 
class of civic judges or magistrates before whom legal 
documents could be drawn up and to whom litigants 
came to have decisions rendered. Such magistrates 
acted in the name of the king, and it would appear that 
their f mictions were extended after the days of Hani- 
murapi so that only specific cases requiring an oath in 
the presence of the gods were referred to the " judges 
of the temple," as the priestly officials in contra-dis- 
tinction to the lay judges were commonly designated. 
The institution of civil courts marks a decided decline 
in the authority of the priests, though as a court of last 
instance the temple continued to maintain itself to the 
closing days of the Babylonian empire. There are also 
traces of a kind of popular assembly with certain 
judicial functions, 96 and in addition, the governors of 
provinces and the chief magistrates of cities could be 
appealed to, to render justice. Furthermore, the promi- 
nence acquired by the city of Babylon as the capital of 
the country gave to the judges of Babylon a position 
not unlike that of a supreme court; and we have in- 
stances of oases, dealt with in Sippar and elsewh* 

94 For details see Edouard Cuq, "Essai sur Forganisation judici- 
aire de la Chaldee a 1 'e"poque de la premiere dynastie Babylonienne 
(Bevue d 'Assyriologie VII, pp. 65-101). 

• s This assembly met at the "wall" of a city, and was accord- 
ingly known as the "wall of Sippar," "wall of Nippur," etc., 
according to the locality. Such an assembly may well have been a 
survival from primitive days when the "elders" constituted the 
tribunal before which litigants came — antedating, therefore, the 
formal organization of courts of justice in the temples. 



being referred to the tribunal of Babylon. All this 
points to an elaborate system of administration, keep- 
ing pace with the union of the states of the Euphrates 
Valley under a central authority and to the growing 
complications of social life, necessitating the institution 
of lower and higher courts, and differentiating the 
functions of the many officials required to maintain 
law and order. 

The large number of actual contracts of all kinds 
and legal cases embodied in the material at our disposal 
from the Hamimirapi period also furnish us with an 
extensive legal terminology, as the result of many cen- 
ries of legal procedure. This procedure, furthermore, 
led to fixing a definite form for legal documents which 
all thus turn out to be arranged according to a definite 
sequence in the arrangement of the data. Inasmuch as 
the legal document involves, primarily, the disposition 
of some object — real or personal estate or a slave, child, 
wife or some member of the household— the person or 
object in question is first mentioned with such specifica- 
tions as are needed to identify it, as, for example, the 
definite location of a house, field or orchard, and the 
description of the produce, article of merchandise, sum 
of money or individual in question. After this come the 
parties concerned, (a) seller and buyer, or (b) the 
parties to any kind of an agreement, or (c) the litigants, 
(d) slave owner and slave (or slaves), (e) father or 
mother and children, members of a household, and the 
like. The business transaction itself is then specified — 
loan, marriage agreement, sale or lease, gift, adoption, 
or claim is set forth as the third division, again with the 
necessary specifications, after which the formal deci- 

Ision reached is indicated, to which the parties involved 
agree in the case of the disposition of property by an 
oath to abide by the terms of the document and to re- 
nounce all further claims. The names of the witnesses 
and the date terminate the document. 



The attachment of a seal or of seals B6 to legal docu- 
ments was customary from the earliest period on, with- 
out, however, being obligatory. In the case of deeds 
of sale, it is the seller who attaches his seal, in the case 
of a lease the lessee, in the case of a loan the creditor, 
in the ease of a work contract the contractor, in the 
ease of an inheritance deed, the one who disposes of the 
projjerty, and the guarantor in case of a bond, — in 
general, therefore, the one who gives up a claim, or who 
takes an obligation upon himself, while ill eases where 
both parties take obligations upon themselves, both 
attach their seals. So, for example, in marriage con- 
tracts, the two contracting parties seal the docuni< 
the same in the case of partnership agreements, or in 
deeds involving exchange or division of property, while 
in cases of adoption, the father and the foster parents, 
though at times the foster parents only. The custom 
varies somewhat in different centres and at different 
times. So, for example, at Nippur the seal appears to 
have been made specifically for the document; it is more 
in the nature of a formal attest than the signature of 
the one party or of the two parties, as is shown by the 
fact that two names are combined on one seal, and the 
seal itself is in the form of a rectangular stamp made 
of a soft material and impressed on the clay like a die, 
and not a seal cylinder, made of some hard material and 
which is always that of an individual, rolled over the 
document. 07 In a general way it may be said, therefore, 
that the seal was a guarantee for the validity of the 
document on the part of the person or persons who 
yielded certain rights, or who took obligations on them- 
selves, but in addition to this it also served as a protec- 

•• See for further details regarding the seal cylinders which 
were rolled over or impressed on the documents, at the close of 
Chapter VIL pp. 418-426. 

• 7 See on this subject of the "Nippur" seals Poebel's discussion 
in Babylonian Legal and Business Documents from the first dynasty 
of Babylon (Phila., 1909), pp. 51-55. 







tion against alterations or additions to a document by 
being rolled over the document wherever there was 
room for it, and frequently even directly over words 
of the document. This feature of the seal is particu- 
larly apparent in cases where the original document 
was enclosed in a cover or envelope of clay, on which 
often a brief docket of the nature of the document w r as 
added with seals to prevent the cover from being de- 
tached with fraudulent intent. In most cases, however, 
the envelope contains a duplicate of the document, the 
agreement of which with the inner one would furnish a 
guarantee for the authenticity of the original in case 
the question of genuineness were raised. The addition 
of such a duplicate was not obligatory, though it be- 
canfe suffieientlv common to lead to the decision that 
the absence of a duplicate was no ground for question- 
ing the validity of a legal document. 98 

In addition to these two purposes for which seals 
were attached, the witnesses or even parties not named 
as witnesses attached their seals as signatures which 
might be appealed to in cases of dispute as proof for 
the actual consummation of an agreement. In place 
of a seal we find in documents down to the Cassite 
period, the attachment of a bit of clothing imbedded in 
the clay document while still in a soft condition, and 
specifically referred to in the document as a substitute 
for the seal. The technical term for such a guarantee 
imbedded in the document (as in the case of the seal) 
by the one who disposes of a right or claim, or by the 
one who takes an obligation upon himself is sissiktu 
(or sisitu) which appears to designate the fringe 
attached to a garment. 98 Again, in place of the seal, the 

M See Winckler, Die GeseUe Eammurabis (Leipzig, 1904), p. 86 

89 See on this term and the custom which it iUustrates Ungnad 
in Orient. Litteraturzeitung, vol. ix, gp. 163; xii, sp. 479; and 
Clay, Babylonian Expedition, XIV, pp, 12-14. The Hebrew term 



finger-nail marks of the contracting party or parties 
are scratched on the tablet in lieu of a seal. 100 This 
may have happened originally in the case of persons 
who had no seal, but in time became quite a common 
attest to a legal document, of which the cross or mark, 
still recognized in modern times as a signature to legal 
documents, is a direct successor. The most solemn fea- 
ture in connection with legal documents was the oath 
which was by no means obligatory in all agreements; 
it was restricted chiefly to cases where individuals 
through sale, exchange, or dissolution of partnership, 
or through a testament or deed of gift renounced cer- 
tain claims and, as already pointed out, it is always the 
person who gives up further claims who swears the 
oath, as it is he who attaches his seal by way of further 
confirmation, 101 We also find the oath where obliga- 
tions are imposed on individuals, though limited, as it 
would appear, to marriage contracts, deeds of adoption, 
appointment of heirs and manumission of slaves — all 
being transactions involving family and household 
affairs. The oath is not taken in the case of loans, 
leases, labor contracts, commissions and the like. We 
have seen that in the earliest days the oath is taken in 
the name of the king, who in his capacity as the repre- 
sentative of the deity 102 has the quality of sanctity 
attached to him. In the days of Hammurapi, the gods 

tisit for the fringe to be attached to garments according to the 
Priestly Code (Num. 15, 3B) is probably a loan word from the 

100 Specifically stated as such in the document. 

101 See on the oath in Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions a 
monograph by S. A. B. Mercer, The Oath in Babylonian and 
Assyrian Literature (Paris, 1912), with supplementary articles in 
the Journal of the American Oriental Society, vols. 33 and 34, and 
in the American Journal of Semitic Languages, vol. 29, No. 2. 

102 Above, p. 288, The rulers of Agade and of Ur have the deter- 
minative of deity attached to their names. The divine descent 
kings thus reverts to a very early period in the history of ma 

either take the place of the king or the name of the king 
is added to that of the gods, and frequently also the 
name of the city or temple in which the document is 
drawn up. The change points to the growing seculariza- 
tion of the royal office, leading to the substitution of 
the gods as a more solemn affirmation. The oath was 
taken by the " raising " of the hand, 103 and the place 
where it was taken was naturally in the temple. Be- 
fore the civil courts, sitting outside of the temple, no 
oath could be taken, and when it became necessary in 
a suit brought before such a tribunal to introduce the 
oath, the case was transferred to the " temple " judges. 


We are now ready to take up some illustrations of 
legal procedure and of business methods in the time of 
the first dynasty of Babylon and of later periods, re- 
stricting ourselves mainly to such specimens as will 
also show the practical workings and application of the 
regulations in the contemporary code of Hammurapi 
which we have discussed. The scope of the published 
documents from this period 104 is exceedingly exten- 
sive, covering all kinds of loans, sales of houses, fields 
and orchards, mercantile transactions in produce, in 
live stock and goods, leases of houses, fields, commis- 
sion brokerage, hire of boats, of animals and of work- 
men, partnership, surety and guarantees, gifts to mem- 
bers of one's family, inheritance and disinheritance, 
slave trade, marriage and divorce, adoption, and manu- 
mission being some of the subjects covered, besides 

108 From the stem nashu, "to raise/' a noun nisku was formed 
which acquired the technical force of "taking the oath." See 
Schorr, Altbabylonische Rechtsurkunden, p, xzxiii, note 1. 

104 See the bibliography in Schorr's Altbabylonische Rechtsur- 
kunden, p. xlix=lvi Schorr's work itself comprises translations 
of 318 documents with commentary, glossary and indices of proper 
names. It is a valuable compilation, despite many inconsistencies 
in the translations, and many omissions in the glossary and indices. 




many instances of lawsuits which illuminate the legal 
procedure of the courts. 

The formulae for loans are much the same as those 
which we have already come across in Sumerian docu- 
ments, with interest fluctuating from W4 to 25 per cent, 
for loans of money, and from 20 per cent, to 33% for 
loans of produce. Loans without interest, naturally, 
were made at all periods as a kind of personal accom- 
modation. Women often appear both as creditors and 
debtors ; and it is significant that we find a large num- 
ber of instances of priestesses ,05 engaged in money and 
in produce lending, and in other mercantile tr- 
actions. Fines are occasionally stipulated in case of 
failure to return the loan at the time agreed upon. The 
temples in the large centres continue to act as financial 
institxitions, lending money and produce and making 
investments in real estate, selling property, making 
labor contracts of all kinds and dealing in slaves. The 
kings also engage in mercantile pursuits through their 
accredited agents; they appear to have utilized their 
large holdings more particularly for wool-growing, the 
extensive sheepf olds in various parts of the realm being 
directly under the supervision of the governors ap- 
pointed by the king. 1 *** The breaking of the tablet 
recording a loan was the formal termination of the 
transaction. Receipts were also given, though not 
obligatory. Debts could be transferred, and in case of 
the death of the debtor, the obligation rested upon the 
heirs. Failure to pay gave the creditor the right to 
levy on the produce or other property of the debtor; 

105 Chiefly of the temple of Shamash at Sippar, though this is of 
course largely accidental, owing to the provenance of many of the 

10fl An old title of the Babylonian kings frequently introduced in 
votive and historical inscriptions is "shepherd/' which thus turns 
out to be more than a mere epithetum ornans, and reflects the actual 
occupation of the rulers, who naturally became the largest land 
owners in their realm. 



and if there was no property, the person of the debtor 
falls into the hands of the creditor, though he could 
substitute for his person, his wife, child or slave. To 
relieve such hardships, the law provided that someone 
could become surety for the debtor at the expiration of 
the term of the loan and agree to reimburse the creditor 
within a short period. Precautions were also taken 
against usurious rates of interest, though the creditor 
usually succeeded in driving a sharp bargain by being 
permitted to lend produce at the current price at the £/ A 
time of the loan — usually in the winter or spring, be- 
fore the harvest — with a return of this amount at the 
harvest season when the price was considerably lower, 
and the creditor therefore received more produce back 
than he loaned. 

A promissory note from the days of Darius may be 
taken as a sample of the general form employed. 107 



"One mina and five shekels of silver (due) Nabu-mukin-zer, 
son of Idinnfi, son of Gakbul, from Nabu-tabni-usur, son of Apia, 
son of GakhaL Monthly for each mina one shekel of silver shall 
increase against him — apart from his share of a record of a seed 
field on the Kish highway, held in partnership with his brothers, as 
a pledge for Nabu-mukin-zer. The total amount of silver against 
him he shall pay. Witness: Nabu-etir, son of Nergal-uahalliin, son 
of Sha-nasbishu, Bel-iddin, son of Tabnea, son of Warad-Nergal, 
Nabu-napishti-usur, son of Shuma, the fisherman, Nabu-mukin-zer, 
the scribe, son of Shamash-akh-iddin, son of Nashishu. Babylon, 
month of Simanu, 108 23rd day, 4th year of Darius, 10 " king of Babylon, 
king of the lands. ' ' 

Ior Clay, Legal and Commercial Documents dated in the Assyrian, 
N eo-Bahylonian and Persian Periods (Philadelphia, 1908), No. 105. 
In the documents of these late periods, the names of individuals 
are carried back to the third generation, the "grandfather/' how- 
ever, being in many cases the family name. The dating (since the 
Cassite period), is according to the years of the reigning king. 

101 Third month. 

109 Corresponding to c. 518 B.C. 



The interest here, as in general throughout the later 
periods, is at the rate of twenty per cent, per year, 
though in Assyria it fluctuated from twenty per cent, 
to as high as a hundred per cent Attached to the record 
of a loan is a reference to another document, previously 
drawn up, in which Nabu-tabni-usur has given Nabu- 
mukin-zer his share of a sown field held in common 
with a brother as a guarantee — a collateral, as we would 
say, to obtain the loan. 

Loans could of course be made for any specified 
time, but in an agricultural country it is in the fall and 
more especially in the spring that farmers and land 
owners needed money to pay their laborers and to pro- 
vide seed and other necessities of the fields, which they 
could return at harvest time. A loan of this kind made 
in Sippar reads: no 

"One shekel of silver for M&r-irsitiin, \fc shekel for Ilu-abi, 
the sons of Makhnubtim ( T), at the usual rate of interest of the 
Shamash temple, received from A-rishat, the priestess of Shamash, 
daughter of Shamshatum. At the time of the harvest they will repay 
the silver with the interest In the presence of Akhuni, son of Lu- 
Gul , . . and of Sin-raagir T the diviner, in the month of Gan-Gan-e U1 
in the year when the throne of Innina was made.*' ,ia 

We see from this and from many other instances 
that the rate of interest in temple transactions was fixed 
— presumably twenty or twenty-five per cent. — and that 
a priestess could act as a money lender. In the same 
way we find another priestess lending produce at 
interest. 113 

"181 Gut of grain, on interest at the usual rate (sc. of the Sha- 
mash temple) , from Nishi-inishu, the priestess of Shamash, daughter 

110 Ungnad in Tord^rasiatische Schriftdenkmdler der KgL 
Museen zu Berlin f Heft viii, Noa. 117-118 (case tablet with seal on 
the outer tablet). 

111 Ninth month. 

n * Fourteenth year of Hammurapi, corresponding to c. 2109 B.C. 

111 Vorderas. Schriftdenkmiiler, etc. Heft viii, Nos. 93-94 (case 



of Khuzalum, Sin-imgurrani, son of Sin-rabi, has received. At the 
harvest in the month of Shandutim ll * he shall measure out the grain 
and its interest. In the presence of Warad-Sin, son of Mar-irsitim, 
Etel-pi-Adad, son of Belanum, son of Mar-ibik-irsitiin. Month of 
Dul-azagga, 116 first day in the year when the throne of Nannar was 
made." 1 " 

An interesting loan made by four persons through a 
palace commissioner, payable on demand, reads as 
follows: 117 

"One talent UB of wool of the palace, 110 worth 10 shekels of 
silver which Ilushu-ibni, overseer of the merchants, has received 
from the palace through ( t) Utul-Ishtar, the scribe, Taribum, son of 
Ibi-Shamash, Ibku-Mamu(f), Beliatum, sons of Ilushu-bani, and 
Kubburum have borrowed from Ilushu-ibni, the agent. On the 
day that the palace demands it, the money shall be brought to the 
palace. In the presence of Warad-Uishu, the scribe, month of 
Kin-Innina, 120 22d day, in the year when Ammi-ditana set up his 
image as leader of the army." lxl 

In the case of purchases, the greatest care was taken 
in the formal deed to protect the purchaser against 
fraud or even unintentional deception by the assurance 
on oath of the seller that he renounces all claims for all 
times as a consequence of the bona fide sale. Not in- 
frequently the further assurance is included that the 
seller guarantees through a third party against any 
claims on the property or object sold. This precaution 
was particularly required in the sale of land or houses 
which, as forming part of a f anrily estate, could not as a 

114 A designation of one of the months in the fall of the year. 

1,0 Seventh month. 

**• Third year of Hammnrapi, c. 2120 B.C. 

m Cun. Texts viii, PI 36-. 

118 That is, the weight of 3600 shekels (or 60 mina), equal to 
about 30 kilograms. 

nfl That is, royal property. See above p. 338. 

1,0 Sixth month. 

1,1 26th year of Ammi-ditana, corresponding to the year c. 
1988 b.c. 



survival of earlier conditions of family joint-ownership 
be disposed of by the head of the family, to the detriment 
of his heirs, or of those otherwise entitled to a share of 
the estate. The heirs and possible claimants are accord- 
ingly at times brought into the proceedings when a sale 
of a house or field is consummated, to guarantee the 
purchaser against future trouble. The purchase was 
ordinarily a cash transaction, though there are instances 
of part cash payment and the rest on credit. Certain 
formalities were observed at the sale, noticeable among 
which is, in the case of deeds drawn in Sippar, Babylon 
and Dilbat, the handing over of a staff by the seller to 
the purchaser 122 as a symbol of the agreement. A still 
older custom that can be traced back to pre-Sargonic 
days 123 is the addition of a small bonus over and above 
the price agreed upon, equivalent to about live per cent. 
of the total value in the case of real estate and from one 
per cent, to five and a fourth per cent, in the case of 
slaves. 12 * It may be, as has been suggested, that the 
custom which is encountered also in Gra&co-Egyptian 
documents is to he traced back to an earlier prohibition 
of disposing of land as belonging to the gods, leading 
to a fictitious sale by giving not the purchase price but 
a higher amount, so as to lend to the transaction the 
form of a gift made by the seller rather than an actual 

The most interesting feature of these deeds of sale 
is the various specifications that they contain, setting 
forth both the rights and the restrictions imposed upon 
the purchaser, the exact details regarding the property 
or objects sold and the terms of the sale. A purchase 

lit BnHm^ See Schorr I.e., p. 116 and note on p, 122 with the 
references there given, 

1M Genouillac, Tablet tes Sumcriennes Arckatques (Paris, 1909), 
p. xxxv, seq. 

1U So according to Cuq, "Etudes sur les Contracts de Vepoque 
de la prerrridre Dynastic babylonicnnc," in Nouvelle Revue His- 
torique de droit Frances et Stranger, vol xxxiv, p. 463. 



of a house made by one brother from another is recorded 
as follows : m 


of a Sar 

six Gin of improved property, 156 ad- 
joining the house of Ea-idinnam, poultry dealer ( ?), being the 
house of Amurru-malik, son of Erish-suniatum, from Amurru- 
malik, Apil-Amurru, his older brother, has bought. As the full 
value, he has weighed out nine shekels of silver. For all times, 
Amurra-malik and his heirs, as many as there may be, renounce 
any claim on that house. In the name of the king he has sworn.'* 

There follow the names of four witnesses, of the 
scribe and the official seal-maker, 187 together with the 
date, the ninth day of the eighth month in the ninth 
year of Samsu-iluna. 128 The seal of the seller is attached 
to the document, rolled twice over the tablet in the space 
just before the date. 

In the ease of purchase of slaves, the seller assumes 
the responsibility for the good condition of the slave 
by agreeing to revoke the sale in case within a month 
the slave is seized with a sickness known as bemm IZ8 
which would incapacitate him. This is in accord with 
§ 278 of the Hammurapi code. 130 A document of this 
class reads as follows: 1SI 

*'A female slave, Ina-e-ul-mash-banat by name, from the city 
Ursum, belonging to Damik-Marduk, son of Libit-Ishtar, Usria, son 
of Warad-za, has bought from Damik-Marduk, Bon of Libit-Ishtar, 
her master. As the full price he has weighed % mina and one 
shekel 1S2 of silver, besides % of a shekel as banus. Three days 
are allowed for investigation, and one month for a revocation in 
case of bennu sickness, according to the laws of the king." 


ia< The distinction is thus made between land and ground with 
a house. 

117 Above p. 334. 

121 Corresponding to the year c. 2071 b.o. 

""Perhaps "epilepsy." 

"•Above p. 314. 

im Vorderas. Sckriftdenkmnler, Heft vii, No. 50. 

Iaa That is, 51 shekels — a very high price for a slave. 


The names of five witnesses and of the scribe are 
attached to the document which is dated 15th day of 
the 9th month of the 7th year of Amnii-ditana. 13 * 

The guarantee against the bennu sickness as an 
assurance that the slave was sold in good condition was 
extended in Assyria to one hundred days, an indication 
of the frequency with which the development of the 
sickness after more than a month must have occurred. 
Moreover, the seller in Assyria was also obliged to 
guarantee that the slave was tractable. As in other 
purchases and agreements, a heavy line is imposed for 
any suit brought in future to reclaim the slave. An 
Assyrian document of this kind recording the sale of 
three slaves reads : lu 

1 ' Seal of Sharrani, owner of the persona herewith legally trans- 
ferred. Im-sha-i (!), the slave, . . . Shar-Ashur, Urkit-& . . . 
total three persons, . . . Akhu-tali ( ! ) , the mayoress of the central 
quarter of the city " a has acquired for four mina of silver. 18 * The 
silver has been paid in full. These men have been bought and 
taken over. Revocation or law suit there shall not be. Whosoever 
presses a suit against the mayoress, shall pay a fine of 15 mina 
of silver. Against their being seized (with bcnnu sickness) a 
guarantee of 100 days, against rebelliousness for all times.' >1,T 

The transaction is attested by nine witnesses, — an 
unusual number in Assyrian documents, and due in 
this case probably to the fact that three slaves are in- 
volved. The date is the 18th of the 12th month in the 
eponymate of BeHmur-ani, the general-in-chief, corre- 
sponding to the year 685 B.C. in the reign of King 
Sennacherib. 188 

m Corresponding to c. 2007 b.c. 

1,4 Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents, No. 232. The text 
is defective at the beginning. 

m A curious office to be held by a woman ! 

1M A high price, being an average of 80 shekels per slave. 

m That is, a guarantee that the three slaves were tractable. 

m On the Assyrian method of dating documents see below p. 351. 



The position of the slaves in Assyria was much the 
same as in Babylonia, They could hold property in 
their own right and could even have slaves of their 
own. They could act as witnesses and had their seals 
with which to attest transactions made by them. Slaves 
could even marry daughters of freemen, and we have 
also instances in Assyria of a slave with two wives. 13 * 
The law also protected the family of a slave so that the 
members were not torn away from their surroundings. 
In many cases slaves formed an integral part of landed 
estates and were sold together with their families with 
the property to which they were attached. 


As a survival of early conditions when women were 
purchased as wives, we have in the marriage agreements 
of the Hammurapi periods the same general form as 
in the case of other purchases, even though this point 
of view is no longer present in the subsequent relations 
of man and wife ; and the form undergoes only slight 
modifications during the later periods of Babylonian 
history and in Assyria. 

In the marriage contract, 140 there are two parties as 
in the ordinary bill of purchase — the parents disposing 
of the daughter, or in default of both, the father or 
mother, or if both are dead, the brothers and sisters, 
while on the other side we have the bridegroom acting 
for himself, though occasionally his parents act for 
him. 141 The original purchase money is replaced by 
the " gift, ' T 142 given by the bridegroom to the parents 
or representatives of the bride, but which already in 

"• See Johns, U, No. 229, 

w« F or details of marriage in the Hammurapi period, see Cuq's 
admirable article, Le Mariage & Babylone d'apris les Lais de 
Hammurapi (Revue Biblique, 1905, pp. 350-371). 

141 See Cun. Texts, viii, 7* 

141 Tirkhatu. 



the days of Hannnurapi is kept in trust for her, to be 
passed down to her children and of which her husband 
can at most use the interest for his business enterprises. 
The gift or dowry of the parents to the daughter ap- 
pears at all times to have been optional, and while at 
the husband's disposal, is to be returned to the wife in 
case of a divorce brought about through no fault of the 
wife. As we have seen, 143 the wife as well as woman 
in general possesses all the rights of a person whose 
independent legal status is recognized. She can buy, 
lease and sell, make contracts and can dispose of prop- 
erty belonging to her. She can enter into business 
partnership with the husband and both are held equally 
responsible for obligations thus entered upon. Women 
act as witnesses, as scribes Ui and even as judges 145 and 
hold other official posts. It would appear, indeed, that 
the relatively high status of woman in ancient Baby- 
lonia results from her position in the cult as a priestess. 
The woman, as part of the temple organization, would 
naturally share in the growth of the organization. 
Hence the priestess like the priest enters into commer- 
cial life, and with this had to be given a legal status 
equal to that of a priest. The ordinary form of a mar- 
riage contract reads as follows : uo 

1 ' Bashtum, daughter of Betizunu, the priestess of Shamash, 
daughter of Uzibitum, has been taken to wife by Rimum, the son 
of Shamkhatum. . . . shekels of silver ** 7 as the amount of her 

1411 Above p. 305, seq, 

a ** E.g., Cun. Texte vi, PL 24 b (Amat-Mamu, the female scribe 
of the document in question). 

145 Cun. Texts, viii, PL 28* (Ishtar-Ummu, daughter of Abba- 
nibum, female scribe and judge in the temple of Shamash) . 

'"Meissner, Beitrage zum altbabyloniscken Privatrecht (Leip- 
zig, 1893), No. 90. 

" T The number of shekels is broken off. The amount of the 
gift varies naturally according to the financial status of the parents; 
it is quite frequently very low, four to ten shekels. 



'gift' she has already received. Her heart is satisfied. If Bashtum 
says to Rimum, her husband, 'thou art not my husband,' 148 she is 
bound and thrown into the river ;"• and if Rimum says to Bashtum, 
'thou art not my wife,' he weighs out to her ten shekels as divorce 
money. In the name of Shamash, Marduk, Samsu-iluna and the 
city of Sippar they have sworn. 1 ' 

Seven witnesses, among them a woman, bear attest 
to the document. The circumstance that the bride, 
apparently, must declare her satisfaction with the mar- 
riage gift or settlement for her benefit shows how far 
removed we are from the days of marriage by purchase. 
In another document, iSt> likewise dating from the days 
of Samsuiluna (2080-2043 B.C.), there is instead of a 
mention of a gift on the part of the bridegroom, a clause 
in regard to the dowry of 19 shekels of silver brought 
by the bride as a dowry to her husband. It is stipulated 
that the husband forfeits the dowry if he divorces his 
wife, besides being obliged to pay a compensation of 
half a mina, whereas if the woman rejects her husband, 
she loses the dowry and must pay a fine of half a mina. 
" By mutual consent they have sworn in the name of 
the king," the document adds. 

We have seen 1S1 how the Code endeavors to protect 
the first and chief wife against being shoved into the 
background through more attractive rivals. In illus- 
tration, we have an interesting marriage agreement 
between a man and two sisters, with a stipulation re- 
garding the status of the second in order to make clear 
her subsidiary position in the household. The docu- 

148 I.e., refuses to cohabit with him or desires to leave him. 

149 An alternative punishment is ' ' to be thrown from a column, ' ' 
e.g., Vorderas, Sckriftdenkmaler, Heft viii, No. 4, 24-25 (case of 
a female slave married to a freeman), and in the text below. 

lw From Nippur and couched in Sumerian. See Poebel, I.e., 
No. 40. 

m Above, p. 309, seq. 



inent from the days of Sin-muballit (2144-2124 B.C.] 
reads: 152 

"Warad-Shamash has married Taram-Sagila and Iltani, 11 
daughter of Sin-abushu. If Taram-Sagila or Iltani says to Warad- 
Shamash, 'thou art not my husband/ they shall cast her down from j 
column ; and if Warad-Shamash says to Taram-Sagila or Iltani, 
wife, ' thou art not my wife, * he loses house and furniture. Further- 
more, Iltani shall wash the feet of Taram-Sagila (and) carry ht 
chair to the temple of her god. Iltani is to help Taram-Sagila wit 
her toilet and (otherwise) assist her and she is not to use her seal 
She must grind 10 Ka of flour and bake for her." lM 

These curious stipulations are all evidently intendec 
to indicate the inferior position which the second wife 
is to occupy by the side of her sister, to do personal 
and menial service, in fact, to be in the position of a 
handmaid who, as will be recalled, 154 might also be givei 
by the wife to her husband as a concubine. 


Li illustration of the paragraphs in the Code of 
Hammurapi dealing with leasing of houses, shops 
barns, fields and boats, and the hiring of workmen anc 
of animals, we have a large number of legal documents 
that throw further light on business practices in ancient 
Babylonia, and which underwent merely minor modi- 
fications in the transfer to Assyria and in the later 
periods of the Babylonian history, down through the 
time of Persian and Greek supremacy. The rent of 
houses varies naturally according to size and location, 

168 Cun, Texts ii, PI. 44, We have also another special marriage 
contract between the same Warad-Shamash and one of the sisters 
(Iltani), See Meissner, %b. r No. 89. 

161 More literally they have entered into a relationship of "wife 
and husband/* with Warad-Shamash. 

151 The names of ten witnesses are attached. 
l " Above, p. 309. 




from two-thirds of a shekel to six shekels annually in 
the documents of the Hammurapi period, which appears 
to be very low from a modern point of view. We must 
remember, however, that the private houses were at 
all times very simple affairs, of one story, built of clay, 
with a varying number of rooms around a central 
court. The period of the lease was usually one year, 
occasionally six months, while in later times the period 
is two years. Repairs during occupancy had to be made 
by the occupant, who is also held responsible for 
damages. The same applies to ships. The rent was 
due at the end of the lease, though in most cases a por- 
tion was paid at the beginning of the tenn, amounting to 
as much as fifty per cent, of the entire rent. The gen- 
eral form of a house lease was as follows : lftft 

"The house of Bibatum, the priestess of Shamash, Ninshubur- 
nasir, sod of Nur-alishu, has rented from Bibatum, the priestess of 
Shamash, daughter of Ibgatim, for one year. As rent for one year, 
he is to weigh out three shekels of silver. As part payment of the 
rent, iy 2 shekels have been received. On the first day of the 
month Warakh-shamna " T he moved in. Three festival gifts for 
Shamash, one piece of meat and 10 Ka of wine he shall furnish. 
In the presence of Amel-Adad, son of Sin-eribam, and Adad-bani, 
son of Marim. Month of Warakh-shamna, first day, the year of 
the goddess Tashmit." 15B 

"Regarding the outlay for the house which rests on the tenant, 
if the owner of the house says to the tenant, l Get out ! ' he (*.«., the 
owner) forfeits the outlay, but if the tenant moves out of his own 
accord, he is responsible for the outlay. 

*'In the presence of Bur-Adad, son of Bar- A dad, Idinnam- 
lagamal, Akhushina, son of E-Sharra, month of Warakh-shamma, 
day, the year of the goddess Tashmit." 

••Banke, Babylonian Legal and Business Documents from the 
time of the first Dynasty of Babylon (Philadelphia, 1906), No. 35 
and 36 — two copies of the tablet with slight variants. 

m Eighth month. The duplicate has tiru which appears to be a 
variant name for the month. 

lM 41at year of Hammurapi, corresponding to 2083 B.c 



We find this same priestess leasing a shop to a cer- 
tain Atidnm for one year at a rental of 1V& shekels of 
silver to be paid on moving into the house on the 20th 
of the fifth month, in the third year of Samsu-iluna, 
corresponding to the year 2077 B.C. ,B0 

As a curious custom we find cases of a builder being 
paid for the construction of a house by occupying 
for a term of years; so in one instance 180 eight y< 
in return "for his outlay,' ' which implies that the 
builder pays the cost. The assumption is of course 
that the ground belongs to the one who engages the 
builder. Since the period of occupation is based on 
the cost of the house, we may conclude that on an aver- 
age the yearly rent represents 12 Vz per cent, of the 
total cost, or about half the amount of the average 
interest on money loaned. From the other end of 
Babylonian history in the days of Seleucid rulers (312- 
65 B.C.) we have a lease with stipulations about repairs. 
It reads as follows: m 

"A large house of Nana- id din, son of Tanittum, son of Akhutn, 
which is in the district of the great park 1M in Uruk, which is at 
the side of the large house of Mushezibitum, daughter of Ishtar- 
akh-iddin, and alongside the centre of the field, at a yearly rental 
for the house of four shekels of silver is at the disposal of Anu- 
uballit, son of Kidin-Anu. Half of the silver at the beginning of 
the year, the balance of the silver in the middle of the year he 
shall pay. The bareness (of the walls) he shall repair, the cracks 
of the walls he shall close up. The amount for the work, bricks, 
reeds and beams, as much as he may need, shaU be placed to his 
credit. During the year three 'shugurru iM he shall give. From 
the tenth day of the month of Tamimiz of the eighth year of 
King Seleucus 10 * that large house is at the disposal of Anu-uballit, 
son of Kidin-Anu/' 

,60 Ranke I.e., No. 51 (case tablet). 

1110 Meissner, Beitriige zum altbabylonischen Privatrccht, No. G6. 
161 Clay, Legal Documents from Erech, dated in the Seleucid 
Era (New York, 1913), No. L 
lM A public park (?), 
""Perhaps festival gifts. 
1M That is, SeleucuB I. whose eighth year corresponds to 304 b.c. 



The document, witnessed and sealed, bears the date 
of the fifth day of Tanimuz (fourth month), eighth 
year of King Seleucus, five days therefore before the 
actual commencement of the lease. The stipulation 
that'the tenant is to be credited for the expense involved 
in attending to necessary repairs is probably a special 
agreement, due possibly to the neglected condition of 
the house at the time that the lease was signed. It 
will be observed, however, that the old form whereby the 
tenant must undertake the repairs is observed — merely 
that he is to be reimbursed by the deduction of the cost 
from the rent. The annual rental being only four 
shekels, one wonders how much was left for the owner 
after the cost of repairs had been deducted. 

The changes in legal procedure wrought through 
the lapse of ages are all of a minor character. Since 
the days of the Cassite rulers (c. 1760-1185 b.c), the 
reigns of kings were reckoned by years instead of by 
the cumbersome method of a date for each year accord- 
ing to some event by which it was designated, and 
which necessitated recourse to lists of dates prepared 
by the scribes or votaries. The name of the place where 
the document was drawn up is added. The tendency 
also developed to reduce the number of witnesses 
(though a uniform practice was never introduced), 
and the word for "witness" was placed before the 
names instead of the phrase "in the presence of." 
In Assyrian legal documents the chief departure from 
Babylonian models is marked by the reference at the 
beginning of the document, to the seal or finger-mark 
of the party who disposes of something or on whom an 
obligation rests, while for the dating of the years an 
independent method was followed, each year being 
named after an official who acted as the eponym 165 for 
that year, the ruling king leading off as the eponym 
for the first year of his reign, followed by the highest 

ia * The Assyrian term is limu. 



officials and then by those of lower grade. The method 
was almost as cumbersome as the older system of Baby- 
lonia, and it is only by reference to lists of eponyms for 
each reign that we can determine the year of a ruler 
corresponding to the eponym named. 186 

Ships were commonly rented for transport of grain, 
and the return was generally reckoned in an amount of 
grain, and not in currency. The same was the case in 
fields which were rented naturally for cultivation, the 
stipulation being that the rent was to be paid in a per- 
centage of the yield at the time of harvest. A contract 
of this nature is couched in the following terms : 167 

"A field of 9 (!) Gan — a meadow without an exit (t) m from 
Melulatum, priestess of Shamash, daughter of Ibkusha, propriet- 
ress of the field, { ?) Bel-ludari, son of Liwirashum, as a field for 
cultivation on a return (of the produce) has rented. At the time 
of harvest the field to its full extent he shall garner and for each 
Gan 100 Ka of grain, 1 "* according to the standard of Shamash, at 
the waU of Sippar), 170 he shall measure out." 

The names of four witnesses and of the scribe are 
attached to the document, which is dated on the 25th 
day of the 6th month in the year "when Ammiditana 
[restored] the power of Mard^lk, ,, that is, the fourth 
year of the king's reign, corresponding to the year 
2010 b,c. 1T1 

w See lists of such eponyms, in Sehrader, KeUinschriftliche 
Bibliothek, I, pp. 204-215, some having merely the names of the 
eponyms, others the name with brief reference to some important 
event in that year. These lists, however, are very incomplete, 
covering only the 9th and 8th centuries. 

m Cun. Texts, xxxiii, PI. 33. 

168 The reference is perhaps to the lack of an irrigating canal 
leading into the field. 

,M About 40 litres. 

170 A term for the tribunal of Sippar, which had its seat at the 
wall of the city. See above, p. 332, note 95. 

m The seals of Bel-ludari and of three of the witnesses are rolled 
over the tablet. 



Workmen and slaves were hired for short and long 
periods, from a few days 172 up to two years, the wages 
being either in produce or more commonly in currency. 
Five shekels a year seems to have been an average 
price for a workman, though the amount is at times 
as low as two shekels. The stipulation is frequently 
added that the laborer is to receive his clothes during 
his term of service. 173 Presumably his board is taken 
for granted, since as a laborer he belongs to the house- 
hold. As a specimen of such a contract we may select 
one which is interesting because it makes provision 
for three holydays each month. 174 

* 4 Warad-Tashmetum baa been hired for two months for team 
( f ) work m by Sin-ikisham, the keeper of the archive ( T) in 
the temple, from Idin-Lagamal, his brother. As his wages, he is 
to receive for two months 1*4 shekels. In the month he is to have 
three days for himself. If he stops his work or goes away, he loses 
his hire. Before Ilushu-bani, son of Amurra-put-Adad, and Ina- 
palishu, son of Warad-Ishtar. Month of Airu, I7B first day, in the 
year in which king Ammi-saduka (erected) a golden throne." 1 " 

Similarly, animals were hired, and their value ap- 
pears to have been rated higher than that of human 
beings, We have a case 178 of an ox hired for draughting 
for one month at the rate of one shekel, of which one- 
half, it is stipulated, is to be paid in advance. Flocks 
of considerable size were hired for a longer period with 
a return in currency, and also in a share of the off- 
spring and the wool. 

The hire passes over by an agreement of this kind 

173 Ten days in one instance for harvesting. (Meissner, I.e., No. 

171 We have, however, a case in which it is expressly stipulated 
that he is to provide his own clothes (Cun. Texts, vi, PL 40a), 

tTt Vorderas. Sckriftdenknuiler, Ileft vii, No. 83. 

1X6 shirbi-ir sa-ma-di, cf . Cun. Texts, xxxiii, PI. 32, obv. 5. 

176 Second month, i/ 

m Eighth year, corresponding to c. 1969 B.C. ^ 

178 Vorderas. Schriftdenkmaler, Heft vii, No. 92. 



into a quasi partnership pact, since in return for a pay- 
ment for the lease of the flock, the lessee shares with the 
owner the profit and increase during the period. The 
partnership agreement was usually quite simple in 
form, as the following document from the neo-Baby- 
lonian period shows : 17a 

1 ' One mina of silver It ti-Marduk-balatu, son of Nabu-akhe-iddin, 
son of Egibis ieo and Marduk-shapik-zer, son of Nabu-ahum-iddin, 
son of Nadin-sheim have invested in common. Whatever trans- 
actions they engage in they share as partners. Witness: Nabu- 
icr-ikisha, son of Belshimu, son of Epesh-ili, Bel-udakhkhid. son 
of Shapik-zer, son of the surveyor, and the scribe Marduk-shum- 
iddin, son of Apia, son of Bel-etir. Babylon, month Warakhshamna* 
third day, fifth year of Nabonnedos, king of Babylon." 

Partnerships could also take the form of an invest- 
ment in common of a sum of money and of merchandise 
which would then be managed for the partners by a 
third person as agent 1 * 1 In that case the agreement is 
more explicit, as for example, in the following document, 
likewise from the reign of Nabonnedos. 1 * 2 

"Five mina of silver and 130 jars of incense belonging to Itti- 
Marduk-baIatu,son of Nabu-akhe-iddin, son of Egibi, and Maxduk- 
shapik-zer, son of Nabu-shum-iddin, son of Nadin-sheim, 1 * 8 due 
from Kurbat-nabu-sabit (?), agent of Nabu-akhe-iddin and Nabu- 
din-epush, agent of Marduk-shapik-zer, for current business. WTiat- 
ever in the city or outside they acquire with it, is to be shared by 
Itti-Marduk-balatu and Marduk-shapik-zer. Kurbat-nabu-sabit 

179 Strassmaier, Nabotiidus Imchriften (Leipzig, 1889), No. 199. 

180 In the neo-Babyionian and later periods, the line of descent 
is carried further than the mention of the father. The third mem- 
ber is not necessarily the grandfather, but corresponds rather to our 
family name. See above, p. 339. Warakhshaniena is the 8th month, 

181 In Strassmaier, nabonidus inschriften, No. 652, the agent 
is a woman. 

"* Strassmaier, I.e., No. 572 (11th year of king =: 544 B.C.). 
188 The same two partners as above. 




(!) and Nabu-din-epush while engaged in this commission shall 
receive from it (i.e., from the sum entrusted to them) food and 
clothing/" besides the use of the house at their disposal.' 1 

During the continuance of partnership, debts con- 
tracted by one party entailed responsibility for the 
other. Partnerships were dissolved either naturally 
by the death of one partner or by mutual consent The 
partners go before the tribunal to render an account, 
swear an oath that everything has been divided fairly 
and equally, and are then formally released from 
further obligations towards one another. It is interest- 
ing to compare two f ornis of such documents, one from 
the days of Hammurapi and one from the days of 
Nebuchadnezzar II. at the other end of Babylonian 
history, to see the substantial continuity of legal pro- 
cedure, and at the same time note certain modifications 
in terms and phrases. 

The f ormer reads : w * 

"After Erib-Sin and Nur-Shamash had formed a partnership, 
they went to the temple of Shamash and rendered an account. The 
currency, male and female slaves, everything outstanding, outside 
and within the city, they divided equally. After they had con- 
cluded this (settlement) of silver, male and female slaves, every- 
thing, outside and within the city, from straw to gold, 18e neither 
shall have a claim against the other. In the name of Shamash, A, 
Marduk and Hammurapi they swore." 

The names of seventeen witnesses are attached to 
this document but no specific date. 

The document of the later period reads : 18 *' 

114 That is, their expenses shall be paid. 

1M Cun. Texts, ii, PL 28*. 

1M A phrase of frequent occurrence to indicate everything of 

,M * Strassmaier, Nabuchodnosor Inschriften (Leipzig, 1889), 
No. 116. Dated 8th of Shebat (11th month), 18th year of Nebuchad- 
nezzar (586 B.C.). 



"Business agreement ( !) of Nabu-kin-apal and Nabu-bel-shunu, 
bis son, and of Simla, son of Zer-ukin, son of Mushezib-bel, the 
shutapi official, under which they carried on busiuess from the eighth 
year of Xahopolassar, King of Babylonia, 187 to the eighteenth year of 
Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia. They have rendered an ac- 
count of their transactions before the judges. Fifty shekels of silver 
are still due from Nabu-bel-shunu and Nabu-kin-apal, his father 
There will be no revocation or further claim among them. (The 
partnership) is dissolved, each one will go his own way. In the 
name of the people ( T) and of the gods, each one has sworn. Their 
account with one another has been settled. The former documents 
in their names have been destroyed/' 


Despite the advance marked by the Hamimirapi 
period, it is full of survivals of an earlier age when the 
father exercised absolute control over his children. 
Thus a father could still sell his daughter to become a 
concubine and practically a slave in the household to 
which she was transferred, though she could not be 
again resold except for good reasons. We have such a 
case in a document from the 12th year of Hammu- 
rapi, m i.e., c. 2111 B.C. 

"Shamash-niiri, the daughter of Ibi-Sha-a-an, has been bought 
from Ibi-Sha-a-an, her father, by Bunene-abi and Belizunu. l9t 
For Bunene-abi, she is a wife, for Belizunu, a maid. At any 
time that Shamash-nuri says to Belizunu, her mistress, 'Thou art 
not my mistress,' she is branded XIW and sold for silver. The full 
price of five shekels has been weighed out. The staff {bukanu) 
has been handed over. The transaction is consummated. His 
heart (sc. of the seller) has been satisfied. For all times no claim 

187 I.e., 617 b.c. The partnership lasted 31 years. 
1H * Cuneiform Texts, viii, No, 22 b . 

1M Man and wife . 

""Literally " shorn," sc., of her hair, but which becomes the 

term for branding a 

ttfa sodd slave mark. 



can be made by the one party against the other. In the name of 
Shamash, A, Marduk and Hammnrapi they have sworn." 

A mother could sell her child. It appears not to 
have been uncommon for women to pass on their chil- 
dren to a nurse who is frequently a votary lfn for a term 
of years at a stipulated sum. In case the mother is un- 
able to pay the amount, the child is sold to the nurse, 
who sometimes pays a certain sum in addition for the 
child which is hers to do with what she pleases. In a 
document, likewise from the reign of Hammnrapi 
('27th year, c. 2096 B.C.) we read as follows: 1B2 

11 A certain Zukhuntum, wife of Ilu-kinum t has given her 
child to be nursed to the Iltani, the votary. The price of nursing 
for three years including food, oil and clothing, lM she has not 
given to Iltani. 'Take the little one, let it be thy child/ Zukluin- 
tnm said to Iltani, the votary. Since she has so said, apart from the 
price of nursing for three years which she {i,e. t Dtani) has not 
received, Iltani has handed over three shekels of silver to Zukliun- 
tum. For all times neither party will have a claim against the 
other. In the name of lb l9i and Hammurapi they have sworn," 

The point of view in such documents is still that 
of the period when children were regarded as an asset 
of fixed monetary value because of the services that 
they could render after they had reached a certain age, 
just as the wife was an asset to her husband through 
her own services and through the children that she 
would bear. Hence the nurse who rears a child en- 
trusted to her would feel compensated by the possession 
of the child in return for the pay which she would other- 
wise receive, though we have seen that the evaluation 

l * l Nu-Gig-Kadishtum. See above, p. 303. 

xn Vorderas. SchrifUknknuifh r. Heft vii, Nos. 10-11 (case 
tablet with seals). 

108 Three standing terms for " support' T also occurring in the 
Hammnrapi Code, § 178. 

1M Perhaps to be read Uraah. 



of the child might also entail upon her to pay an extra 
sum over and above the compensation due her. 

The adoption carried with it a full share in the 
estate; and this stipulation prevailed in Assyria as 
well, as is expressly set forth in a document dating from 
the middle of the 7th century B.C., which reads in part 
as follows : m 

"Seal of Nabu-naid, the owner of his son, legally transferred 
Ashur-sabatshu-ikbi, a small child, son of Nabu-naid, has been 
adopted as their son by Sin-ki-Ishtar and (his wife) Ramtu. 
Should there be seven 1M children to Sin-ki-Ishtar and Ramtu, 
Aahur-sabatshu-ikbi remains the oldest son. m Whenever at any 
time be it Nabu-naid, be it his brother, be it a governor, be it a 
relative should bring suit against Sin-ki-Ishtar, or his children, he 
will pay (a fine of) 1 mina silver and 1 mina of gold to the goddess 
Nin-lil, m 2 white horses he shall lay at the feet of the god Ashur, 
his eldest son he shall burn at the khamru *•• of Adad. Despite 
his suit he shall not obtain (sc. the child )." 

The curious reference to an offering of horses as 
part of the fine is of frequent occurrence in Assyrian 
documents, 200 as is also the allusion to a free offering 
of children 201 which reminds one of the offering of 
children to Moloch in the pages of the Old Testament. 
Exactly how we are to understand this, whether literally 
or merely as a strong threat that was not actually car- 
ried out, is difficult to decide. Certainly on the face of 

m Peiser in Oriental Litteraturzeititng, vi, Sp, 198, 

*•• Here used as a large number, i.* H ever so many. 

1,T It follows from this that the couple was childless at the time 
that they adopted the child. 

m An exceedingly heavy fine to be paid to the temple of Ninlil 
or Ishtar. 

m The altar or some seetion of the temple. 

70 *J£.g. t Kohler-Ungnad, Assyrische Rechtsurkunden (Leipzig, 
1913), No. 162, 164-178. Two to four horses are named as fines, 
besides a very large money fine for an unwarranted suit. 

101 L.c, Nos. 158 (son or daughter to be offered in the fire to 
Belit-seri), 163 (son offered to Sin; daughter to Belit-seri). 



it, the phrase suggests that at one time children were 
offered as sacrifices in the way indicated, though it is 
hard to believe that as late as the seventh century the 
practice still prevailed. 


The manumission of slaves is also placed under the 
legal aspect of an adoption by the owner, though in 
time the adoption became a mere form — a kind of legal 
fiction, in order to give a definite status to the f reedman 
or f reedwoman, for a slave as such is never designated 
as the son or daughter of any one but merely by his or 
her name. The theory of manumission as an adoption 
is carried out to the extent that if such a freed slave 
rebels against the authority of his adopted father, he 
is punished as a son would be, not as a slave. The cere- 
mony of manumission consists in removing the brand 
mark of the slave from the forehead, though both the 
branding and the cleansing from the brand may have 
come in the course of time to have been a formality — 
perhaps only symbolically carried out. In the case of 
a female slave, the manumission is often accompanied 
by the dedication of the woman to the service of some 
deity; she becomes a votary, in which case the temple 
as such adopts her, though the assumption is that her 
foster parents have presented her to the temple. The 
general form of such a document of manumission reads 
as follows: 202 

4t A certain Zugagum by name 2M is (acknowledged as) the son 
of Sin-abushu 80 * and of IMmi-tabat, Sin-abushu his father has 
cleansed his forehead. 208 As long as his father Sin-abushu lives, 
Zugagum, his son will support him. For all times, as regards 
Zugagum, son of Sin-abushu, Xutubtum, the priestess of Shamash 

202 Cun. Texts, iv, PI. 42*. 

203 This form designates the individual as a slave. 
2<M Signifying "the god Sin is his father." 

208 I.e., has removed the slave brand. 



and Nabi-Sin, her brother, the children of Sin-abushu, will not 
have any claim on Zugagum, their brother. In the name of 
Shamash, Marduk and the King Sumu-la-ilu, their father, Sin- 
abushu has sworn. If Zugagum should say to his father, Sin- 
abushu 'thou art not my father,' the punishment as in the case of 
a son shall be imposed upon him. 2041 According to the laws of 
Sumu-la-ilu, they have destroyed the documents." 401 

The reference to the laws of Sum-la-ilu, the second 
member of the first dynasty of Babylon (& 2211-2176 
B.C.), points to reforms instituted by that ruler who, 
it is reasonable to conjecture, compiled a eode as did 
Hamniurapi half a century later. That code must have 
provided that the formal breaking of the clay docu- 
ments represented the termination of the agreement 
recorded therein. Accordingly, we find the ceremony 
of the destruction of a document frequently referred 
to either as an order of the court, or as a statement of 
fact to indicate the termination of a contract, or a re- 
vocation or the cancelling of a debt or other obligation. 
The manumission of a female slave by adoption and 
who is then presented to the temple is recorded as 
follows: 203 

* ' The female slave 3<M> Amat-Ishtar is the daughter of Kunutum. 
Kunutum and Mukhadi have cleansed her. To Shamash and A they 
have presented her. [As long as Kunutum, her mother lives, she 
(%.€., Amat-Ishtar) is to provide for her support. When her god 

t0i According to the old Sumerian law (V, Rawlinson, PI. 25, 
col. ii, 23-28), such a rebellious son is branded as a slave and 
sold for silver. 

,0T Le.f the documents recording the former sale of the slave. 

208 Thureau-Dangin, Lettrcs it font rats de Vcpoque de la 
premiere Dynastie Babyloniennc (Paris, 1910). Nos. 68-69 (case 

1<w Preceding the names of the slaves is an indication of the 
number as "one head," "two heads" and the like, as we still say 
one head of cattle, etc. 



calls Kunutum to him, 21 * no one is to have any claim on Amat- 
Ishtar.] 2n Of the children of Shamash-idinnam, 212 male and female, 
none will have any claim on Amat-Ishtar. In the name of Sha- 
mash, Marduk and Sin-muballit, 213 they have sworn." 

The inner document— without further specific date 
— bears the names of nine witnesses, among them four 
women, while the case or envelope has no less than thir- 
teen witnesses, of whom eight are women. The remains 
of seal impressions of four of the witnesses also appear 
on the envelope — all, as the added titles show, connected 
with the temple of Shamash at Sippar where the docu- 
ment was drawn up. 

The children thus adopted took upon themselves the 
obligation to provide for the support of their foster- 
parents, but the phrase was probably introduced merely 
to specify the duty devolving upon the adopted son or 
daughter in case of necessity. The children as a sur- 
vival of an earlier stage of society owed service to the 
father or mother, and in lieu of their eventual share in 
the property would be obliged to look after the parents 
in case the latter became incapacitated. Sons were 
obliged to care for their widowed mothers according 
to the Hammurapi code, but it does not appear that the 
parents were under ordinary circumstances actually 
maintained by the children. On the other hand, to en- 
sure themselves against want, it is frequently stipu- 
lated in the case of gifts made by a father or mother to 
one of their children that in return, the support of the 
parent devolves upon the child so favored. Such 
phrases must, therefore, be taken as legal formulae, 

210 l.e. f on the death of Kunutum. Mukhadi, who is mentioned 
with Kunutum, may be the letter's daughter, who, as the heir igTtiM 
to the manumission of the slave. 

211 These two sentences on the outside tablet only. 
m The deceased husband of Kunutum. 

*" Sin-muballit, the immediate predecessor of Hammurapi, ruled 
from c. 2144 to 2124 ac. 



introduced to provide for contingencies that might 

The laws of inheritance as set forth in the code of 
Hammurapi are illustrated by numerous documents 
from the period of the first dynasty. The practice 
varies, however, to some extent in different localities. 
So, e.g., in Nippur and in Uruk and apparently, also, 
in Assyria, the oldest son received an additional share, 
though this appears to have been optional. In the same 
way the father could also make a special gift to any of 
his children, though the code takes precautions against 
his doing so to the serious detriment of the other chil- 
dren. Daughters inherit on equal terms with sons, and 
the mother, as we have seen, takes charge of the es- 
tate 214 (in case she survives her husband) until the 
children reach their majority. She is not, however, 
under ordinary circumstances the heir of her husband. 

Naturally in a complicated form of society, many 
disputes arose in regard to estates, and some of the 
documents setting forth the settlement of property be- 
queathed by a father to his children are very elaborate. 
A final attest to a division is formally recorded in the 
following terms. 815 

" Nur-Shamash, Ili-ma-akha, Palatum and Khummrum have 
divided all the possessions of their father. From straw to gold, 21 * 
brother will not have any claim against brother. In the name of 
Shamash, A, Marduk and Hammurapi, they have sworn. Before 
Ibik-Skamash, Jlu-nishtama, Sin-idinnam and Ibni-Shamash in the 
year of the Hammurapi canaL" alT 

A more specific inventory is, however, the rule and 
generally the document is drawn up to settle the share 

S1 « Above, p. 305. 

116 Meissner, Beitrage zum altbabylonischen Privatrecht, No. 106. 

J "A phrase of frequent occurrence to indicate everything of 
value. See above, p. 355. 

su 1.e, t when Hammurapi dug a canal, caUed after him = the 
9th year, corresponding to c. 2114 b,c. 


of some one member of the family, as in the following 
instance : M 

"Two Sar improved property at the side of the house of Sin- 
eribam, son of Warad-ilishu, its front facing the street, 2 Gar on the 
long side, 1 Gar on the front ; item, one slave Warad-Erua, item, 
one slave Iiumur-gamil-Shamash, who has escaped;* 10 item, one 
female slave Taribom; item, one female slave Ashratum-ummi-is 
the share of Lipit-Ishtar, son of Bunini, which (at the division of 
the paternal estate) with Sinmagir, and Ibi-Sin, the sons of Bunini, 
with Sin-idinam and Rish-Shamash, the children of Hushu-ibishu, 
[his brother] ,*** he received. Also the share of Lamazi, the priestess 
of Shamash, reverts to the brothers between them. 121 They have 
divided everything from straw to gold, brother has no claim against 
brother. In the name of Shamash, A, Marduk and Hammurapi **' 
they have sworn." 

Where in a deed of settlement, merely the share of 
one of the heirs is set forth, we must assume that simi- 
lar documents setting forth the share of each of the 
others were drawn up, so that each heir would have 
documentary evidence in his possession, which would 
again become the basis for the division of his estate 
after his death. 

We have, however, plenty of instances in which in 
one document the share of each of the heirs is detailed, 
as, e.g., in one dated on the 17th of the 1st month in the 
11th year of Samsu-iluna, corresponding to c. 2069 b.c, 
which reads as follows: ffl8 

*" Thureau-Dangin, lx., No. 98-99 (case tablet). 

*" Counted in on the assumption that he will be caught and 

"•So on the outer tablet. These are the nephews of Lipit- 
Ishtar whose father is dead, and who therefore receive the father's 

sai The priestess received her share during her lifetime, but it 
reverted to her brothers on her death See above, p. 308. 

*** Dated in the 37th year corresponding to c. 2086 b.o. 

•"Poebel, l.c, No. 32. 





"Eleven (t) M * Gin of improved property, adjoining 
house of Lugal- Amaru, (with) one zaggula dish,* 25 as a special 
possession because of his status as first-born, % Sar improve 
property, by the side of the house as a special possession, — the 
share of Apil-Amurru, the eldest son ; one-third of a Sar, six Gin 
improved property by the side of the house of Apil-Amurru, his 
brother, the share of .Lipit-Enlil, his brother; [one-third Sar 
six] "• Gin improved property [at the side of the house] of Lipit- 
Enlil, his brother, the share of Lipit-Amurru, son of Apil-Shaniash. 

[One-third Sar, six] Gin improved property [by side of the 
house of] Ea-idinnam, the falconer (t), 22T son of Ea-tukulti, 
share of Amurru-Malik. As heirs of Erisumatum they have 
divided the estate according to agreement. In the future, one 
make no claim against the other. In the name of the King they 
have sworn." m 


To round out the picture of law, and of commerce 
and of social conditions in Babylonia and Assyria, we 
have for the older and later periods a large number of 
documents setting forth the judicial rulings in law- 
suits brought before the tribunals. These documents 
reveal the practical workings of legal procedure in civil 
cases, for up to the present at least we have not come 
across any records of criminal procedure, and the 
question has been raised whether such records were 
kept. The general form followed in cases brought he- 
fore the courts was to begin with the statement of the 
case and of the claims made. The testimony on both 
sides was then set forth with the administering of the 
oath where called for, followed by the decision of the 

224 The number is not clear. 

"» Often mentioned in Nippur texts as a special possession of the 

220 Text defective. The restoration is made on the assumption 
that the share of the remaining brothers is equal. 

- 7 So Poebel's explanation. 

22& The document is written in Sumerian, which remained in use 
as the official language for a longer period than elsewhere in such 
strong Sumerian centres like Nippur. 



court. There was commonly added an express pro- 
hibition against reopening the case, to which the party 
losing the suit consents by an oath. The names of the 
judges and witnesses together with the date as usual 
complete the record. The most important section in 
such documents is the portion relating to the evidence, 
which generally involves the production of legal docu- 
ments and earlier court records bearing on the case. 
In complicated affairs, such records often go back many 
years and there are instances in which a large number 
of documents are tested by the tribunal before reaching 
a decision. With the advance from purely religious 
tribunals to courts presided over by lay judges, as above 
pointed out, 220 and the increased prominence given to 
government officials, such as governors and city magis- 
trates as against the former predominance of priests 
in the judicial affairs of the country, we also find a 
growth in the direction of finer distinctions and greater 
scrupulousness in reaching a conclusion that should be 
fair to the parties concerned. Efforts are also made by 
the judges to bring about settlements by mutual con- 
cessions and by compromises so as to avoid bitter con- 
tests, which would entail delays and possibly hard- 
ships for both sides. On the whole, the picture thu3 
resulting is that of a country in which a high sense 
of justice could be relied upon to protect those seeking 
a vindication of their rights. Law and order prevailed 
in the land, and while we learn occasionally of instances 
of " graft" on the part of officials, as is natural in 
a land in which government activities cover so large 
a field, the general impression that one receives — and 
this applies to Assyria as well as to Babylonia — is that 
the citizens had a feeling of supreme confidence in 
the courts as safeguards, under whose protection the 
citizens could pursue their daily routine of barter and 
exchange, and carry on their activities in the various 

229 See above, p. 332. 









walks of life. It is a significant testimony to the spirit 
of justice and right thus emphasized by the courts in the 
south and in the north that Assyrian rulers who appear 
most ruthless in their campaigns of conquests, appar- 
ently concerned to promote their selfish ambitions, yet 
pride themselves in their annals, as did Hammurapi in 
his code, that they protected the rights of their subjects 
and sought to secure justice and to suppress violence 
and wrong. In a document M0 found in Ashurbanapars 
library, setting forth certain special privileges accorded 
from olden days to the people of Sippar, Nippur and 
Babylon, some general sentiments as to the duty of 
Jongs are introduced which may be regarded as illus- 
trating the prevailing point of view. We cannot do 
better than close our survey with an extract from this 

"If the king does not hear the law, his people will perish, the power 

of the king will pass away. 
If he does not heed the law of his land, Ea, 8 * 1 the king of destinies, 

will alter his destiny and east him aside. 

If he gives heed to the wicked, eon fusion will disturb the land. 

If he follows the counsels of Ea, the great gods will aid him in 

righteous decrees and decisions. ' ' 

•» Gun, Texts, xv, PL 50. 

2,1 The god of humanity par excellence. See above, p. 210. 



At the outset of a discussion of the art of Babylonia 
and Assyria, it is natural to institute a comparison with 
that of the other great civilization of high antiquity — 
Egypt Leaving aside the question not yet ripe for 
solution, whether the culture of the Nile is earlier than 
that of the Euphrates Valley or vice versa, though the 
indications at present are in favor of the former alter- 
native, there are certain physical features which the two 
countries have in common, which help to explain the 
rise of a high order of culture in both. The warm cli- 
mate during the greater portion of the year, suitable for 
a population as yet unable to protect itself against a 
more rigorous one, is divided in both the Euphrates 
Valley and in Upper Egypt into two seasons — a dry 
season beginning in the spring and extending till the 
late fall, followed by several months of rain and storms 
during which the Nile in Egypt, and the Euphrates and 
Tigris in Babylonia overstep their bounds and flood 
large areas. While this occurrence often brought about 
devastation prior to the construction of protective irri- 
gation canals, through the perfection of a system to 
direct the overflow into the fields, it resulted in a fertil- 
ity which rendered agriculture carried on with primi- 
tive methods, a comparatively easy task that was 
rewarded by rich returns. 

The contrast between the two civilizations, on the 
other hand, which is particularly noticeable in the art, 
is due to the abundant presence of stone and wood in 
the one country, and the almost total absence of stone in 
the other. In place, therefore, of the massive stone 
structures of Egypt — temples with large stone columns, 




elaborate rock tombs, mastabas and huge pyramids— 
we have in the Euphrates Valley constructions limited 
by the use of the clay of the native soil, which forms the 
natural and practically exclusive building material. 
Stones of various kinds from the hard diorite and basalt 
to several varieties of limestone and alabaster were, to 
be sure, imported at an early period from the moun- 
tainous district to the east and northeast as well as 
from northern Arabia and probably also from Egypt 
and Nubia, while wood was brought from the forests of 
Lebanon and other districts ; but the difficulties involved 
in procuring such material had as a natural result its 
rather limited use in architecture and proved a check 
to the artistic instinct in the development of stone 
sculpture. The hindrance was less felt in the case of 
moulding and designing in copper and iron and in the 
artistic employment of silver, gold and bronze and in 
carvings on bone and shell in which a high degree of 
skill was achieved at an early period. (See PL 74.) 

The dependence of architecture upon the material 
accessible for building purposes brings about a further 
differentiation between Babylonian and Assyrian con- 
structions, and this despite the fact that the art, as the 
entire civilization of Assyria, is merely a northward 
extension of the Euphratean culture. Limestone and 
alabaster were abundant in Assyria, and the proximity 
to the mountains made it possible to obtain harder 
stones with comparatively little difficulty. The larger 
employment of stone in the Assyrian temples and 
palaces thus became a characteristic feature, whereas 
the use of such material at all times remained excep- 
tional in the large structures in the south. 

Taking up first the older constructions in the south, 
it is interesting to note at the outset the shape of the 
bricks which during the period when the Sumerians 
were in control were plano-convex and oblong, while 
as we approach the time when the Semites assume the 
supremacy, the older form yields to square bricks that 



were also large and flat 1 In time, a preference arose 
for a smaller brick about twelve inches square, and 
this remained in use with some variations. For the 
important parts of the building, including the outer 
layers, kiln-burnt bricks were used, but for the great 
brick masses sun-dried bricks of crude variety appeared 
to suffice. 

At what time it became customary to paint colored 
designs on the bricks we are unable to say, but from the 
circumstance that painted pottery and vases of vari- 
ous designs were found in the lower layers at Telloh 
and Nippur, it is a fair inference that the art reverts 
to a very early period. At all events, we find it largely 
employed in the bricks of Assyrian palaces of the ninth, 
eighth and seventh centuries B.C., the colors either 
being simply placed on a coating of plaster over the 
bricks, or the designs were drawn on the bricks, placed 
together and covered with a colored glaze or varnish, 
which upon being burnt accentuated the brilliancy of 
the hues. The chief colors employed were yellow, blue, 
red and white. 2 It is in the constructions of the davs of 
Nebuchadnezzar II. that this art of glazed tiles reaches 
its highest form of perfection. The procession street 
leading to the temple of Marduk along which on festive 
occasions the statues of the gods were carried in solemn 
procession was lined with magnificently glazed tiles, 
representing figures of lions marcliing along in majestic 
dignity. The background is dark blue, the lion itself is 
yellow, while running along the upper and lower edges 
are small white rosettes with a touch of yellow in the 
centre. Similarly, running along and around the outer 

1 At Nippur, €,g, f the bricks of the Sargon period were found to 
measure twenty inches square, but were only V/ 2 inches thick. 

*An analysis of the colors showed that the yellow was anti- 
moniate of lead, the blue glaze is copper with some lead to facilitate 
the fusion of the lead, the white is oxide of tin, and the red a sub- 
oxide of copper. Cf. Layard, Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh 
and Babylon (New York ed. 1863), p. 166. 



and inner walls of the great Isbtar gate, excavated bj 
the German expedition in Babylon and which f orme 
the approach to the temple of Marduk, there wei 
alternating rows of unicorns and dragons made in the 
same manner as the lions, and showing the same 
of the original, brilliant coloring. It is estimated 1 
there were at least fifteen rows of such glazed desi| 
rising to a height of about forty feet. From the Baby- 
lonians this elaborate and effective method of decorat 
ing exterior and interior walls passed to the Persia 
who carried it to an even greater degree of perfection.* 
Large numbers of painted and enamelled bricks 
were found at Khorsabad and Nimrud by Botta anc 
Layard respectively, which exhibited the remains ot 
continuous patterns and of more or less elaborate dc 
signs, serving as decorations of the walls and arched 
gateways of the royal palaces. One of these decorated 
arches restored from numerous fragments portrays in 
conventionalized form the familiar winged creatures 
— a lower order of deities — standing before a large 
palmette which has become one of the conventionalized 
substitutes of the sacred tree. 4 Another elaborate de- 
sign in one of the palaces of Nimrud, repeated like a 
modern wall paper pattern, showed a crouching bull 
with decorative borders above and below. This style 
of decoration was extended to the gates and to the door- 
ways leading from one division of the palace to the 
other as well as to floors which were similarly often 
found covered with elaborate geometrical and flowered 
designs that bore traces of coloring. 5 We are therefore 

* See the illustration in Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in 
Persia (London, 1892), facing p. 420. 

* See Plate XVIII, Fig. 2 and Place, Ninive et VAssyrie (Paris, 
1867), PI. 14--17, 

* Traces of colored tiles — red, black and white — were found in 
the case of the stage* tower at Khorsabad (see Botta et Flandin 
Monument de Ninive, PI. 155-156), but the conclusions drawn there- 
from that each of the seven stages bore a different color and that 
these colors stood in some relationship to the planets is not justified, 




justified in concluding that it was customary in both 
Babylonia and Assyria to cover the exteriors of temples 
and gateways as well as of palaces with decorative de- 
signs, flowers, geometrical patterns and pictorial repre- 
sentations on glazed bricks and that this method of 
decoration was extended to the interior halls and the 
gates or doors, leading from one section of a temple 
or palace to the other, and even to the exterior of the 
staged towers, though the extent to which this was car- 
ried in the case of these towers is still in doubt. In the 
case of interior decoration, less exposed to atmospheric 
influences, direct painting on the stucco with which 
the brick walls were covered frequently took the place 
of glazed bricks. The effect of this manner of decora- 
tion and particularly of the colored glazed tiles must 
have been striking in the extreme. 


Outside of this feature, however, there was little in 
the architecture of Babylonia and Assyria to arouse 
one's admiration. The use of clay as the building ma- 
terial led in the direction of hugeness, but a hugeness 
without beauty. The temples and palaces were large 
brick masses surrounded by equally massive walls. 
Some attempts at relieving the monotony were made 
by gateways that had the appearance of towers, and 
by turrets on the tops of the walls. The softness of the 
soil made it necessary to exercise great care in order 
to secure strong foundations for these immense struc- 

Seven was not the customary number of the stages. Indeed there 
was no fixed number, and four stages are more common than seven. 
The ambition of the royal builders was solely directed to raising 
the towers to as great a height as possible in imitation, as has been 
suggested, of a mountain peak. It does not appear that any symbol- 
ism was associated with the number seven, even when this number 
became a more common limit to the series of stages heaped on one 


tures, and it became customary at an early period to 
erect a broad platform, often carried up to a consider- 
able height, on which the temple or palace was reared. 
Regarded as the dwelling of the god in whose honor 
it was erected, the temple became literally the god's 
house, and, as a consequence, the names of the temples 
of Babylonia and Assyria invariably contain as one 
of their elements the word " house.' ' Thus Marduk's 
temple at Babylon was known as E-sagila, "the lofty 
house/' which was also the designation of Ea's sanctu- 
ary at Eridu. Nabu's temple at Borsippa was called 
E-zida, "the faithful house," Shamash's temple at 
Sippar, E-barra, "the shining house," — an appropriate 
designation for the dwelling of the sun god ; the temple 
of the moon god Sin at Ur was called E-khul-khul, 
"house of joys," and so on through the almost endless 
list of temples in Babylonia and Assyria. 

The prominent feature of the temple as the house 
of the gods was an outer court immediately back of the 
entrance, from which one entered into a long vestibule 
leading into a second court with a large hall at one end, 
at the back of which there was a recess or a small 
chamber to receive the image of the god. Grouped 
around the outer court were rooms for the priests and 
for the temple administration. Similarly, corridors 
led to rooms around the inner court and adjoining the 
inner hall, all set aside for the various needs of the 
temple service. The number of such rooms varied of 
course with the size of the temples, just as the temples 
themselves varied in size from comparatively small 
dimensions — more in the nature of chapels — to large 
areas with a perfect labyrinth of rooms around the 
outer and inner court. 9 The temple of Ningirsu at 
Lagash and known as E-ninnu, "the house of fifty," 
must have been an extensive structure, as described by 

* See Koldewey, Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa (Leip- 
*, 1911). 




its builder Gudea, who tells us of the many rooms it 
contained for the accommodation of the priests, store 
rooms for grain, treasure rooms, stalls for the sacrificial 
animals, and various offices for the administration of 
the temple. It will be recalled 7 that the temples be- 
came in the course of time commercial institutions, hav- 
ing large holdings of land, giving out contracts for 
work, hiring laborers, and engaging in the loan of 
money and other commercial enterprises. For all these 
purposes, offices and store rooms had to be provided, 
and since the temple officials were also the judges and 
administrators of justice, further accommodations were 
needed for this phase of the temple activity. An inter- 
esting variation of the Assyrian temples from the Baby- 
lonian models which in other respects were closely 
adhered to, consisted in the proportions of the outer and 
inner court. While in the case of the Babylonian edi- 
fices the two courts were about the same shape, the 
inner court in the temples of Assyria was narrow and 
broader than the outer one, and led into a long and 
narrow hall, at the back of which was the **holy of 
holies," where the god had his seat. The people as- 
sembled for worship in the large outer court where the 
altar stood on which the sacrifices were offered, while 
the inner court with the holy of holies in the rear was 
reserved for the priests and for the rulers who alone 
had access to it. The impression conveyed by these 
sacred edifices is well described in an inscription of the 
Assyrian king Tiglathpileser I. who reigned about 
1125 to 1100 B.c, g He describes how. after laying the 
foundation of the restored temple of Ami and Adad in 
his capital city on the solid rock and enclosing the 
whole with burnt bricks, he built the temple of Anu and 
Adad of large stones. He continues: "Its interior 

T Above, p. 274 and 316 uq, 

1 Rawlinson I. PI. 15, 98-101. Quoted also by Handcock, 
Mesopotamian Archeology (New York, 1912}, p, 142. 


I made brilliant like the vault of heaven, decorated its 
walls like the brilliancy of the rising stars and made 
it superb with shining brilliancy." 

There were thus chiefly two features in the temple 
architecture of Babylonia and Assyria upon which the 
effect produced depended — the erection of the struc- 
ture on an elevated platform, and the elaborate decora- 
tion by means of glazed tiling and through direct paint- 
ing of the stucco-coated interior walls. The fondness 
for brilliant coloring so characteristic of Oriental art 
at all times may thus be traced back to the civilization 
of the Euphrates Valley, and in this respect, at least, 
the temples of Babylonia and Assyria must have sur- 
passed the decoration of the sacred edifices of Egypt 
which, constructed of hard granite, lent themselves less 
to gaudy decoration. The use of various kinds of 
stone, chiefly a soft limestone and a harder alabaster, 
was an innovation introduced by Assyrian builders, 
but the stone was limited to the outer casings and to the 
sculptured figures that were placed at the entrances to 
temples and palaces and to the sculptured bas-reliefs 
with which the Assyrian kings from a certain period 
on were wont to cover the interior walls of the great 
palace halls — the throne rooms and reception halls. 
The great mass of the Assyrian temples continued to 
be built of kiln-dried and sun-dried bricks down to the 
latest period, — in slavish imitation of Babylonian 
prototypes. The main effect, therefore, of these struc- 
tures was at all times that of huge square masses, usually 
with the corners orientated to the four directions, and 
merely interrupted by massive gateways and smaller 
entrances and the turreted tops of the enclosing walls 
to relieve the monotony. 


This hugeness was further accentuated by the high 
towers that were attached to the temples in the case of 



the chief edifices of both Babylonia and Assyria and of 
many of the minor ones as well. The tower, as has 
already been pointed out, represents a mountain in 
miniature and is to be explained as an endeavor on the 
part of a people coming from a mountain home to re- 
produce in their new surroundings the belief which 
placed the seat of the gods on mountain tops. The 
tower as a sacred edifice thus rests on a totally different 
conception from the temple proper which is an out- 
growth of the ordinary house; and since we find the 
tower as an adjunct to the temple in all the important 
Sumerian centres of the south, we may in connection 
with other evidence ascribe the tower to the influence 
of the non-Semitic element, and the temple as above 
described to be the sacred edifice expressive of Semitic 
ideas. The two together — and temple and tower are 
thus invariably combined— furnish, accordingly, an- 
other illustration of the composite character of the 
Euphratean culture. 

The aim of the builders in harmony with the under- 
lying motif of the towers was to make them as high as 
possible— an aim that is well expressed in the inscrip- 
tion of Tiglathpileser L, above referred to, who, speak- 
ing of two towers that he erected in connection with 
the double temple of Ann and Adad, states that he 
reared them "up to heaven." The simplest method of 
construction to convey the picture of a mountain was 
to place one stage above the other, each stage or story 
being somewhat smaller in proportions than the one 
immediately below it. The number of stages thus 
superimposed varied from four — which seemed in the 
earlier period to be the usual number 8 — to seven. It 
is of course possible that the number seven was asso- 
ciated with the moon, sun and five planets, but there is 
no satisfactory evidence that this was the ease. Such 
symbolism could only have been introduced at a time 

• Though towers of two and three stages also occur. 


when the original purpose which inspired the building 
of these towers had been lost sight of. A tablet dis- 
covered by the late George Smith and recently published 
furnishes the height of the seven stories of such a stage 
tower in Babylon (zikkurat, u high place" as the 
Babylonians called it) as 300 feet. In this case each 
story was not only smaller in circumference, but the 
stages diminished in height as one proceeded to the 
top. Elsewhere, however, as at Khorsabad, the four 
lower stages were of equal height. Whether in all cases 
the outer casing of bricks were glazed and colored is a 
question that cannot be answered definitely, though the 
indications arc that such elaborate decoration was ex- 
ceptional and limited to the towers built in later periods 
by Assyrian riders, who w f ere fired with the ambition to 
outdo their Babylonia in predecessors in grandeur. It 
is probably safe to assume also that in the earlier 
periods, both in Babylonia and Assyria, the towers did 
not rise to more than 100 or 150 feet. Such a structure 
in comparison with the ordinary low one-storied houses 
— and even the temples and palaces, though higher, 
consisted of only one story — would seem huge indeed. 

Up to the present the best preserved zikkurat found 
was that unearthed by Botta at Khorsabad, of which 
portions of four stages remain with abundant traces 
of coloring in the case of the exterior casings. Fortu- 
nately, we have two other means of forming more 
accurate views of the appearance presented by these 
towers when complete than woidd be possible by a con- 
jectural reconstruction — in the first place by a repre- 
sentation of a tower on a Babylonian monument, and 
secondly through the preservation of a structure in the 
Euphrates district which, though dating from the 
Mohammedan period, is modelled on the pattern of 
a Babylonian zikkurat. The picture of a zikkurat 
occurs on a so-called Boundary stone, 10 recording the 
"See Jastrow. BUdermappe zur Babylonisck-Assyrischen Re- 
ligion No. 38. 



grant of a certain piece of property through a ruler of 
the thirteenth century B.C. ; it shows a structure of four 
stages superimposed, with indications of a winding 
ascent from one story to the other and crowned with 
a chapel. The stages decrease in size as one proceeds 
upward, and the saane is the case with the very remark- 
able stone structure still standing at Samarra some 
ninety miles above Bagdad. Here we have a stage 
tower of seven stories on the top of which is a little 
rotunda in which the muezzin takes his stand to call 
the faithful to prayer. A glance at this Mohammedan 
minaret is sufficient to show the direct and continuous 
line of tradition leading from the zikkurat to the 
towers of the Mohammedan mosques on the one hand, 
and to the belfries, campaniles and steeples of Christian 
churches on the other. 11 In Babylonian and Assyrian 
architecture the tower is always separate from the tem- 
ple proper — as though to symbolize the independent 
origin of the two structures, the mQxmtaxn-motif and 
the house-wofo/. Generally the tower is back of the 
temple, at times to one side, but, even when it is accorded 
a position immediately adjacent to the temple, as in the 
case of the two zikkurats attached to the temple of 
Anu and Adad at Ashur, one standing to the right, the 
other to the left of the double temple, the tower is yet a 
distinct structure, the ascent being independent of the 
temple. In the case of many mosques the Babylonian- 
Assyrian tradition is followed through the virtual 
independence of the minarets as adjuncts to the mosque, 
though in others the minaret is directly attached and 
eventually becomes a steeple placed on or at the side 
of the mosque. Similarly in the church architecture of 
Italy we find a tower built quite independently of the 
church as in the case of St. Mark's in Venice and of the 
cathedrals in Florence and Pisa, while in Norman archi- 

11 See on this subject Thiersch, Pharos, Antike, Islam und Occi- 
dent (Leipzig, 1907). 



tion while illustrations on Assyrian monuments show 
us temples with a series of domes — not unlike those 
which constitute a feature of Mohammedan mosques 
and chapels at the present time. The courts of the 
temples, however, were uncovered and the public cult 
took place in the open air. Nor are there any good 
reasons for believing that either in the case of temples 
or palaces or private houses flat roofs were ever intro- 
duced. The absence of stone and of wood to serve as 
beams and rafters would prevent the architects from 
introducing such a covering. The brick arch and the 
dome were therefore the two resources which must have 
been developed at a comparatively early period, and in 
the construction of which the ingenuity of the builders 
had an opportunity for wide play. The principle of 
the arch was further applied in the construction of 
vaults for the burial of the dead both in Babylonia and 
Assyria. In the mound Mukayyar — covering the site 
of ancient Ur — Taylor in 1854 discovered a number of 
such arched vaults, averaging 5 feet in height and 3 1 /* 
feet in breadth, and tapering from a length of 5 feet to 
about 7 feet. About fifty years later, the German 
explorers working at Kaleh-Shergat, the site of the city 
of Ashur, came across vaults of precisely the same con- 
struction— an interesting and valuable index of the 
continuity of architectural methods in both the south 
and the north. 18 The depth at which these vaults were 
found at Kaleh-Shergat showed conclusively that the 
explorers were in the presence of tombs belonging to 
the older Assyrian period. The span of the arch in 
these Assyrian vaults was about five feet, the vaulted 
portion above the perpendicular walls on which the 
arch rested being a little over two feet high. The total 
height of the tomb was therefore about five and a half 

11 See Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient Geselhckaft No. 8, 
facing p. 43; and for arches from Nippur and Uruk, Handcock, 
Mesopotamia*, Arehceohgy p. 170. 


tecture the belfry becomes attached to the church, and 
in Gothic architecture the tower becomes a steeple 
placed on the church, and with a complete departure 
from its Babylonian-Assyrian counterpart is looked 
upon as a symbol of the spirit of Christianity, calling 
upon its followers to direct their thoughts heavenward, 


There is another feature of Babylonian architecture 
which needs to be touched upon before we leave the 
subject. At Warka, Telloh, Nippur and Babylon re- 
mains of arches were found at a depth which left no 
doubt as to the great antiquity to which the construction 
of arches is to be traced back in the Euphrates Valley — 
at least to 3000 B.C. The span of these arches is not 
large and the construction is very irregular and crude, 
but nevertheless they illustrate the principle of the true 
arch ; and it has been plausibly conjectured that the dis- 
covery was suggested by the arched form of the primi- 
tive reed huts — still in use by the natives in the villages. 
These early arches were used as tunnels through which 
drains passed to carry off the rain water and the refuse 
from the structures beneath which they were erected. 
The extent to which the arch may have been used in 
Babylonian temples and palaces as a part of the con- 
struction proper is a question still in dispute, but since 
we find it employed in connection with the gateways of 
Assyrian palaces in the eighth century, it is a reason- 
able conclusion that the Assyrians merely imitated in 
this regard as in so many others the example furnished 
by the architects of the south. This is all the more 
plausible because of the discovery at Bismya of a domed 
covering 1S for a structure that stood in close vicinity to 
the ancient temple at that place. We have at least one 
example of an arched gateway uncovered in the course 
of the excavations at Babylon by the German expedi- 

12 Banks, Bismya, p. 246. 







to almost three feet. 15 The shapes likewise vary- 
from a very simple and almost crude design with mereh 
a line or two at the top and bottom to elaborate decora- 
tion and very intricate shapes with graceful handles. 
At Nippur and Telloh several specimens of unusualh 
large jars have been found, distinguished for then 
regular rope pattern, while showing a still higher foi 
of art is a utensil — perhaps an incense burner — of 
most intricate shape and beautifully enamelled with a 
green color. This specimen was found at Telloh. 10 

The clay furnished so profusely by the alluvial soil, 
and which we have seen conditions the entire archi- 
tecture of the Euphrates Valley, as it forms the writing 
material, lent itself to all kinds of artistic purposes. 
The earliest images of the gods as the earliest attempts 
at ornamentation and at sculpture were in clay. Some 
of these attempts were naturally exceedingly crude. 
These little images must have been manufactured in 
large quantities and sold to pious worshippers, to be 
kept in their homes as amulets to ward off the influence 
of evil spirits, or deposited as offerings in the temples. 
Clay moulds have been found into which the soft clay 
was pressed to bring about conventional shapes. 

Considerable skill was shown in the modelling ol 
the human face in these images, as may be concluded 
from the figure of a goddess with uplifted hands. There 
is an expression of adoration and servility in the face 
that is quite unmistakable and which is well supportec 
by the position of the hands, suggesting a petition to 
some powerful being. Even more carefully executed is 
the picture of a goddess leading a worshipper into the 
presence of the deity. Strangely enough the portrayal 
of animals is less successful, though of course it may 
not be fair to judge from the few specimens at our dis- 

" Banks, Bisrmja, pp, 175 and 261. 

u De Sarzec et Heuzey, Decouvertes en Chaldee, PL 44 
Fig, 6 a and 6 b j for large jars, Babylonian Expedition of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania I, 2 PL XXVI and Series D vol. 1, p. 406. 




posal. Allowance, too, must be made for the individual 
style of artists, and yet we are probably safe in saying 
that except for the animals portrayed on glazed tiles, 
there was something stiff and grotesque in the Baby- 
lonian artist's reproduction of animals — presenting a 
contrast in this respect to Assyrian art, where the 
portrayal of animals is superior to that of the human 
face, which rarely rises above a conventional leveL 


At a very early period the Babylonians conceived 
the device to harden the clay by the admixture of sub- 
stances which gave it almost the quality of a soft stone. 
We have a variety of such artificial substances that 
form a transition to sculpture in stone. A particularly 
good specimen was found in Nippur, showing a sacri- 
ficial scene in two divisions. The upper portion repre- 
sents a naked worshipper offering a libation before 
Enlil, the chief deity of Nippur, repeated for the sake 
of symmetry. In the lower portion are attendants 
carrying some objects and driving two goats. Despite 
the fact that the human figures are drawn in outline with 
the aid of simple lines, there is dignity in the expression 
on the face of the deity. The animal — apparently a 
gazelle — drawing a plough (again repeated for the sake 
of symmetry), is well reproduced in a second plaque 
from Nippur, which shows the same naked worshipper 
before Enlil (see Plate XLIII, Fig. 2). 

In general, it may be said that in this early work 
there is little expression in the human face. The eye 
is lifeless, and, even when the face is in profile, the eye 
is usually given in full. The crudeness of the art is to 
be seen in the position of the feet, though occasionally 
an artist succeeds in correctly representing a standing 
position. So in the case of a bas-relief found at Nippur 
which, though revealing all the characteristic traits of 
the early art, is redeemed by the effective manner in 
which a bearded priest is shown with his face half turned 



. v 

towards a worshipper carrying a goat as an offerin 
and being ted into the presence of a goddess seated o 
a bird (Plate XLIV, Fig. 1). A limestone plaque wi 
the figure of a Sumerian chief, standing at the entran 
to the sanctuary of the god Ningirsu at La gash, belon 
to the same period, the dress of the worshipper be 
again of the same primitive character as in the Nipp 
bas-relief, with the exception that the single garb ban; 
ing from the waist reaches to the feet (Plate XLIV, 
Fig. 2), The elaborate pattern as well as the border of 
the garb which has a slit in front is due to the greate 
eare in the artistic execution. Very striking is th 
arrangement of the hair falling down the neck and gath- 
ered together by a fillet around his head, while a Ion: 
chin beard adorns the face. The eye is drawn in fro 
view, and the positions of the feet also reveal the us 
limitations of the early art. The long aquiline nose an 
long feathers as part of the head gear suggest a foreig 
conqueror who is here paying his respects to the patro 
deity of Lagash. The sacred pules with mace heads 
front of the chief who grasps one of the poles with 
right hand are religious symbols, — perhaps originall 
trees — plaeed near altars or in front of sanctuaries, no 
unlike the totem poles of the North American Indians. 

A similar attempt to represent two different ethnic 
types may be recognized in a group of figures that a 
unfortunately only partially preserved. We have 
apparently a procession of warriors, leading captiv 
The warriors wear their hair long, but the drawing 
bo conventionalized as to suggest wigs. The long aqui- 
line noses remind one of the figure with the hig] 
feathers, as do the long almond-shaped eyes. The p: 
cession appears to have been arranged in two rows, and 
it is evident that the bald-headed and beardless figure 
in the second row is intended to represent a Sumerian. 
The folded arms are the gesture of adoration or devo- 
tion. It would appear then that we have here a por- 
trayal of a scene in the early history of the Euphrates 











Valley in which a foreign group succeeded in bringing 
the Sumerians into subjection. The two warriors fac- 
ing one another would then represent the conquerors. 
Beyond, however, the indication of broadly distinctive 
types and a certain dignity and strength of posture 
these specimens of the earliest art do not go, so far as 
the human figure is concerned (Plate XLV, Fig. 1), 

On the other hand, the art is rather remarkable in 
the skill with which a series of figures are grouped so 
as to convey a unity or a continuity of action. A good 
specimen is furnished by the fragment of what was, 
when complete, a limestone relief of an unusually large 
size. The fragment preserved is about four feet high. 
It is again divided into two sections, the upper one 
representing a procession of four figures being led 
into the presence of a deity, though it is possible that the 
third figure with uplifted hands represents a goddess, 
the consort of the god to whom homage is to be paid 
and who acts as an intercessor between the gods and the 
worshipper. In the lower portion the most significant 
feature is a seated figure — no doubt again a priest — 
playing on an eleven stringed instrument, the details of 
which even to the figure of a bull as a decorative por- 
tion of the frame are drawn with great precision. De- 
spite the fragmentary condition of the scene portrayed, 
one obtains an impression of unity (Plate XLV, Fig. 2) . 

We can trace this artistic method in detail in a 
series of bas-reliefs, likewise on limestone plaques, 
portraying Ur-Nina, the king of Lagash (c. 2975 B.C.) * 
and his family taking part in building the temple E- 
ninnu to Ningirsu in Lagash. 17 In the upper portion 
Ur-Nina is portrayed with the workman's basket on his 
head. He, as well as all the other personages, is beard- 
less and without hair on his head. Naked to the waist, 

1T Two in the Louvre (DecouverteSj PL 2 bis, fig. 1 and 2, and PL 
2 ter, fig. 1) and two in the Museum at Constantinople — one of the 
latter in a very fragmentary condition. 



the customary flounced skirt falls in three folds cover- 
ing the lower part of his body. The dress of all the 
other figures is the same, only that in place of the 
flounced skirt, all except one are clothed in a simple 
form of skirt across which the artist has written the 
name of the personage portrayed. Behind the king 
stands an attendant priest with libation vase and cup; 
in front of him five members of his family with names 
attached, and it seems quite certain that the first of 
these is a woman and the king's daughter. In the lower 
portion the king is seated on the throne, pouring out 
a libation after the ceremonial rite of building. Behind 
him stands the attendant priest with the jar out of 
which a libation has been poured into the cup held by 
the king in his right hand, while before the king stand 
a priest (I) lfi and three other sons of the king. The 
pose of all the figures is entirely conventional, the cross- 
ing of the arms symbolizing devotion, and the same 
convention is observed in the manner in which the left 
arm is portrayed when the right one holds an object. 
No attempt is made to give any expression to the faces, 
all of which, therefore, look alike, but in keeping with 
the symbolism which pervades the art, the higher 
stature of Ur-Nina is intended to portray the supreme 
dignity of his royal office, just as by further contrast 
between the human and divine ruler, the god is repre- 
sented in the early art as much larger than the king 
(Plate XLVI, Fig. 1). 

The progress of sculptural art is to be seen in the 
direction of an advancing complication in the design so 
as to tell as full and detailed a story as possible. The 
best specimen in this respect so far recovered is a large 
limestone stele, unfortunately found in a broken condi- 

" The name of this personage is Dudu, but the title that follows 
is not clear. At all events he is not a member of the royal family, 
but some official. 



tion, but of which enough is preserved to make clear the 
various episodes in a great struggle which it illustrates. 
The remarkable monument found at Telloh dates from 
the reign of Eannatum (c. 2920 B.C.) and portrays Ms 
successful engagement against the people of Umma 
with whom the rulers of Lagash had many a passage at 
arms. 19 Eannatum pictures the great god of Lagash, 
Ningirsu, as capturing the forces of the enemy in a 
large net. This symbolism is offset by a no less re- 
markable realism in portraying the course of the battle 
and its issue. One of the fragments, divided as usual 
into two compartments, shows the troops of Eannatum 
actually engaged in the conflict. The king is clad in a 
long skirt to which a cloak falling over the left shoulder 
is attached. The king's helmet differs also from the 
head gear of the soldiers by the ear-pieces with which it 
is provided. In his right hand he holds a weapon which 
has the shape of a boomerang. The march of the troops 
over the prostrate bodies of the enemy is portrayed 
with remarkable vividness and power. They form a 
solid phalanx, with their long lances held in the right 
hand, while with the left they protect themselves by 
rectangular shields that cover the entire body. To 
illustrate the various divisions of the soldiery partici- 
pating in the battle, the u light 1 * infantry is shown in 
the lower compartment, armed with lances and battle- 
axes but without shields. Again the king is portrayed 
at the head of his anny, but this time riding in a 
chariot and brandishing a long lance to suggest another 
stage in the engagement, which probably extended over 
a considerable period of time. The entire obverse of 
the monument appears to have been taken up with the 
portrayal of the attack and the various stages in the 
engagement, while the reverse illustrated the result of 
the battle. Just as the king, to symbolize his preemi- 
nent rank, is drawn as of larger stature than his sol- 

18 See above, p. 128 seq. 


diers, so the god Ningirsu is pictured as huge even in 
comparison with the king. The upper part of the head 
is wanting, but despite this, one is struck by the great 
dignity of the face, which is drawn with evident care. 
The eye is majestic, the mouth firm, while the long flow- 
ing beard adds to the inrpressiveness of the figure. In 
his right hand Ningirsu holds a powerful mace as his 
weapon, while in his left he clasps the heraldic standard 
of Lagash, the eagle holding two lions in Ms talons. 
This standard is frequently portrayed on seal cylinders 
and other works of art, and well illustrates again the 
symbolism that finds an expression in such various ways 
in the oldest art of the Euphrates Valley. The central 
idea of the design is strength — strength in a superlative 
degree. Before the god is the huge net with the 
prisoners to symbolize the capture of the enemy. To 
further indicate the impossibility of escape from the 
clutches of Eannatum, a prisoner who has thrust his 
head out of one of the meshes is being beaten back by 
the weapon in the hand of the god. The same combina- 
tion of symbolism with extreme realism — so extreme 
as to be almost naive — marks two other fragments of 
this monument continuing the tale of the victory and 
its results. One of these shows several rows of corpses, 
naked and with shaven heads, but evidently arranged 
in a certain order with great care. The burial of the 
soldiers of Eannatum who had fallen in battle is here 
depicted, by way of contrast to the scene preserved in 
part on the other fragment, showing vultures flying 
off with human heads, clearly intended to symbolize 
the punishment meted out to the slain forces of the 
enemy 20 (Plates XLVII and XLVIH). 

30 Because of this fragment the monument is commonly desig- 
nated as the "Stele dea Vautours" ("Vulture Stele"). See for 
further details, Heuzey et Thureau-Dangin, Restitution materielle 

Stele det Vautours (Paris, 1911). 




It was evidently regarded as the highest aim of the 
older art of Babylonia to tell a story, and as the ten- 
dency towards elaboration increased, the result was an 
endeavor to give a continuous tale by means of suc- 
cessive scenes in which some details were symbolically 
indicated and others most realistically set forth. The 
lack, however, of a true artistic instinct comes out 
especially in the manner in which the accompanying 
inscription is allowed to interfere with the effect of the 
drawing or design, frequently running across figures, 
inserted wherever there was any room without regard 
to its effect upon the monument, as in the case of a 
sculptured votive offering from the days of Entemena, 
the nephew of Eannatum, interesting as furnishing a 
detailed drawing of the heraldic device of Lagash (Plate 
XLIX, Pig. 1) above referred to. The material is an 
artificial composite of clay and bitumen, having the ap- 
pearance of black stone. The drawing is again divided 
into two compartments with an ornamental scroll-shaped 
design below. The eagle has a human face, an interesting 
testimony to the antiquity of the endeavor to reproduce 
in art the hybrid creatures which led in the course of 
further development to human headed bulls and lions 
in Babylonia and to the winged bulls with human faces 
in Assyria as well as to the sphinxes in Hittite art. 21 
The combination of the human and animal form rests 
ultimately upon two features, the resemblance often 
so striking between the features of a child or a man 
and some animal, and, secondly, the occurrence of all 
kinds of anomalies in the young of animals and in the 
case of infants, 22 which suggested to the primitive mind 
the possibility of the actual production of "mixed" 

21 See Plate LIV, Pig. 1 and Meyer, Kuitur und Retch der 
Chetiter, Figs. 9 and 61. 

" See the elaboration of this thesis in the author's Babylonian- 
Assyrian Birth Omens and their Cultural Significance (Giessen, 
1914) j also above, Plate V, Fig. 1 ; Plate XXXII and Plate LIV, 
Fig. 1. 



creatures. Symbolism seized hold of the belief and 
made of the combination the union of the powers and 
attributes suggested by the animal represented with 
human features. The crouching heifer in the second 
compartment is probably also to be taken as a symbol 
of power, just as on another monument we have the 
combination of the same two designs — the human 
headed eagle clutching lions and ibexes with crouching 
bulls. 28 In contrast to the eagle which gives a decidedly 
grotesque impression, relieved only by the force with 
which he clutches the lions, the natural force of the 
heifer full of life and vigor raises the work to a much 
higher degree of artistic execution. It is much to be 
regretted that a stele found at Telloh, illustrating 
in detail the course of a conflict with an enemy, should 
have been discovered in so fragmentary a state. In 
its complete form it must have told its story in a 
particularly effective manner. The two fragments that 
have been pieced together show us in the upper row the 
combatants marching to the encounter, in the middle 
the engagement itself and in a third presumably the 
victory, with a procession of captives and, perhaps, 
offering to Ningirsu. It is a hand-to-hand encounter. 
The enemy is represented as naked, while the king's 
soldiers have helmets and short skirts. The scene 
full of life and dramatic in the different pose given 
each figure so far as preserved ( see Plate XLIX, Fig. 2) . 
The highest point in this realistic portrayal of ai 
actual conflict, which was obviously a favorite subject 
intrusted to the official artists of the rulers, is reached 
in a remarkable monument discovered in the eoi 
of the excavations at Susa and which formed pail of 
the spoil taken from Babylonia by an Elamite con- 
queror in the twelfth centtiry. The monument, a lime- 
stone slab, shows the king Naram-Sin of Agade (c. 
2550 B.C.) and his victorious army fighting in a moun- 

*• See below, Plate LXXI, Fig. 1. 



tainous district. The difficulties of the region are sym- 
bolized by the high steep cone which the king is about 
to ascend. The manner in which the soldiers are dis- 
tributed is also intended to convey the impression of 
an army marching up the side of a mountain. A tree 
is added to suggest a thickly wooded district. All this 
is, to be sure, crude, but the main effort of the artist is 
devoted to the delineation of the king as the central 
figure, and in this he has been entirely successful. The 
great stature as usual is supposed to accord with the 
royal rank, He towers over the enemy as well as over 
Ms own soldiers. His spear has sunk deep into the 
neck of the enemy crouching before him, and he holds 
a second spear in his hand ready to continue the attack. 
The moulding of the right arm showing the strong 
muscles and reproducing the strong grip of Naram-Sin 
on his weapon is admirable. The face is unfortunately 
badly preserved, but the shape of the head, the care- 
fully arranged beard, the tightly fitting helmet betray a 
skill in keeping with the splendid poise of the body and 
the well proportioned limbs. The horns attached to 
the helmet are the symbol of divinity to which Naram- 
Sin laid claim. The numerous figures are so grouped 
as to lead up to that of the king as representing the 
climax. It was regarded sufficient to indicate by 
the garb and by the pose the broad distinction between 
the soldiers of the king and those of the enemy, but 
within these limitations the stele of Naram-Sin shows an 
advance in the variations in the pose of individuals, in 
contrast to the earlier conventional sameness. 24 This 
marked tendency toward individual treatment is still 
further accentuated in another monument of the days 
of Naram-Sin found near Diarbekr far up in the north- 

** The original inscription accompanying the monument is almost 
entirely missing, but on the cone, representing a mountain, Shutruk- 
Nakhunte, the king of Elam who carried the monument to his capital 
as a trophy in the twelfth century B.C., has written a record of this 



era region of the Tigris, erected there by the triumpl 
ant king to commemorate his achievements in the ex- 
treme north. 25 The material is again a soft stone 
which a large figure of the king has been sculptured in 
a most effective manner. This is no longer a conven- 
tionalized face but an attempt to give a portrait of the 
king. Despite the imperfect preservation of the monu- 
ment, the face has an expression which is distinctly 
individualistic. If we are justified in associating this 
advance in sculpture with the age of Naram-Sin, } 
haps as a result of the intellectual stimulus incident to 
the advance in the Semitic control of the Euphrates 
Valley, then we may ascribe to the same period an 
exquisite relief on black steatite which for grace and 
attention to details belongs to the best that this high 
antiquity has left to us. 20 It represents the goddess 
Ninsun seated on a throne. Her expression is singu- 
larly attractive. There is a softness and beneficence in 
her manner which add an element of great charm. The 
dress, gracefully arranged in folds, covers the entire 
body and a necklace adorns her throat The neat 
arrangement of the hair is in keeping with the exceed- 
ingly fine execution of the whole figure. The eye of 
the goddess is correctly shown in profile — another proof 
of the advance in art. The same quality of workman- 
ship, though not so successfully carried out, is to be 
seen in a fragmentary bas-relief picturing the divine 
pair, Ningirsu the patron deity of Lagash and his 
consort Bau. 27 The latter is seated on the knees of the 
god, who turns towards her with a look of extreme 
tenderness. The expression on the face of the goddess 
is less pronounced owing to defective preservation, but 
one can still recognize the endeavor to give to her fea- 
tures a softness and femininity which are intended to 
present a contrast to those of the male figure. 

86 See above, p. 136. 

"PlateXLVI, Figr. 2. 

17 See illustration above, Plate XLII, Fig. 3. 





It may be accidental that in the sculptures in bas- 
relief of the later periods we do not encounter the same 
degree of perfection. In view of the many and large 
gaps in our material for tracing the development of 
Babylonian art, it is rather hazardous to draw con- 
clusions, but it ought not to occasion surprise that after 
a period of strong art activity a reaction through some 
cause or the other should have set in. Comparing the 
stele of Naram-Sin with the sculptured design at the 
head of the famous Code of Hammurapi 28 (c. 2123-2081 
B.C.), one cannot help being struck by the stiffness and 
conventionality of the figures of both the god and the 
king on this diorite block, in contrast to the ease and 
grace of the earlier period. Hammurapi is standing in 
an attitude of adoration before Shamash, the sun-god, 
who as the god of justice is symbolized as the ultimate 
source of the laws compiled in the code. There is, to be 
sure, an attempt to reproduce the features and the 
general expression on the face of the king, as may be 
seen from a comparison with another bas-relief of 
Hammurapi which we are fortunate enough to possess. 
In so far the art of the second millennium continues the 
traditions of the past, and perhaps may even have im- 
proved upon them, but the figures are lifeless. The feet 
are reproduced in the usual conventional position. We 
also have a representation of the seated sun-god, dat- 
ing from the middle of the tenth century, and showing 
that in the interval of more than a miUennium, there 
had been no conspicuous change or improvement in the 
artistic representation of the gods and of the human 
figure in general. (See PL 10.) 

Turning to sculpture in the round, it is natural in 
view of the greater difficulties involved to find the 
Sumerians and Babylonians so hampered by conven- 

*■ See illustration above, PI. 34 j and for the other portrait of 
>rapi, Jastrow, BUdtrmappe zur Babylonisch-Assyrischen 
No. 5. 




tionalism that there is very little progress to be noted 
a comparison of the oldest with later specimens. One 
of the oldest is the statue of a king of Adab, found in 
the course of excavations on that site and which is now 
preserved in the Ottoman Museum at Constantinople. 
The stone is hard marble, and the statue is noticeable 
for its weight, which is about two hundred pounds. The 
upper part of the figure is naked, and there is a total 
absence of any attempt to show the muscles of the body. 
The arms are attached to the stone, though less closely 
than in some other specimens. The head is clean 
shaven, the eye-sockets are hollow, with indications 
however that they were once inlaid — probably with 
ivory. This in itself shows the limitations of the art 
which does not attempt to reproduce the individual 
features, but contents itself with general and more or 
less conventionalized traits. In comparing this with 
another figure which may be somewhat earlier, it will 
be noted that in the latter there is no attempt to repro- 
duce the dress, that the arms are closely attached to the 
body and that the feet are merely indicated and are 
united to the pedestal. In these three respects, there- 
fore, the sculpture in the round passes through a stage 
of progressive development, and the statue of the king 
of Adab shows us how the artists of Babylonia gradu- 
ally overcame some of the difficulties which thev en- 
countered ( see Plate XXII, Fig. 1 ; Plate XXIV, Fig. 1 ) . 
The treatment of the hair appears to have occa- 
sioned special difficulties in this class of sculptures. 
Ordinarily, the Sumerian artist contented himself in 
the case of male figures with leaving the hair out en- 
tirely, which is natural since the Sumerians were beard- 
less and may at a certain period have had the custom of 
also shaving the hair of the head. Occasionally, how- 
ever, the endeavor is made to show the hair, as in the 
case of the statue of the Sumerian official above dis- 
cussed, which, though cruder than that of the king of 
Adab, is redeemed to a certain degree by this feature. 



As a result of the growing prominence of the Semites, 
greater attention was paid to both hair and beard, since 
the Semites were bearded and wore their hair long. 
We have from Bismya, which yielded the statue of 
Lugal-daudu, a splendid specimen of the early portrait- 
ure of a Semite. The material is alabaster. While the 
strands of the beard are not indicated, nevertheless the 
general effect is pleasing and rather graceful. No doubt 
this is in part due to the good drawing of the head, the 
strong characteristic nose, the forehead and the vigor 
of the eye, although the eye-sockets are as usual hollow. 
The statue of an early Semitic ruler, Manishtusu, 
(c, 2600 B.C.), found in the course of the excavations at 
Susa, shows that the more careful representation of the 
beard was within the scope of the older Sumerian or 
Babylonian artists. 29 One can see also more of an 
attempt to reproduce personal features, such as the 
firm mouth and the broad nose. The portrayal of 
women, whose headdress at all times formed an im- 
portant part of their toilet, acted as a further incentive 
to artists to perfect a method of representing the hair 
in a natural manner. We find this in the case of two 
heads that have come down to us from the earliest 
period, showing the hair carefully hanging in tresses 
that cover the ears and held back by a fillet. Nothing 
could be more charming and more graceful than the 
seated figure with her long hair falling in beautiful 
strands down her back, and the details of the closely 
fitting dress so carefully reproduced. Only in the arms 
closely attached to the body do we see the limitations of 
this early art. The most remarkable specimens of 
sculpture in the round that have come down to us from 
ancient Babylonia are the diorite statues from the days 
of Gudea, The king set up a large number of such 
statues of himself of which some are in sitting and 

» Above, Plate XXIII, Pig, 2 ; for the head of a Semite (found 
at Bismya) Plate XXII, Pig. 2. 



others in standing posture. 80 Considering the hardness 
of the material, which was imported by Gudea from a 
great distance, it is surprising to see how gracefully the 
garments fall over the body, and the degree of perfec- 
tion reached in representing the muscles of the arms 
and shoulders, and the lines of the neck and breast. The 
clasped hands, no longer clinging to the body, are ad- 
mirably executed. In the case of the feet of the stand- 
ing statues, however, the artist betrays his inability 
to detach them from the background, and which gives 
to them a very awkward appearance. On the other 
hand, in the case of the seated statues the artist has 
overcome the difficulty and shows the feet free from 
the pedestal and from the background. Ten such 
statues were found, all decapitated, .but through recent 
finds, one statue can now be completed, and we have in 
addition to this head fitting on the statue several other 
heads of diorite which enable us to form a very satis- 
factory idea of the modelling of the hiunan features 
out of this hard stone. As was to be expected the ex- 
pression is somewhat blank. The cheek bones and chin 
are admirably modelled ; the eyes are large and repre- 
sented as wide open and with heavy eyebrows. Pre- 
sumably, the hard substance prevented the artist from 
making the eye-sockets hollow as in the case of statues 
sculptured out of a softer stone, but there is a distinct 
artistic gain in thus avoiding the temptation to insert 
pupils of ivory or of some other substance. The turban 
relieves the artist of the necessity of treating the hair, 
but we are fortunate in having a statuette of a woman, 
carved out of this hard substance and belonging to the 
period of Gudea, from which we see how the artist over- 
came this difficulty to a certain extent. Here the ar- 
rangement of the hair is indicated by the curls held in 
place by a fillet, while the hair falls in a thick mass in 

80 The standing ones measuring 1.10 to 1.58 metres; the sitting 
ones 77 to 93 centimetres. See above, Plate XIII and Dicouv< 
en Chaldce, PL 7-20. 




the back. The artist evidently could not go as far as 
in the case of the two figures above discussed, but on the 
whole the effect is pleasing. We may note in this figure 
also the skill of the artist in giving a feminine expres- 
sion to the unusually regular features, and the rather 
elaborate dress which is admirably reproduced. The 
proportion of the head to the body is also correct, in 
contrast to the completed statue of Gudea where the 
head is out of proportion to the short and thick-set 
body, which gives the ruler almost the appearance of a 

Besides human figures, we have specimens of ani- 
mals sculptured in the round, as well as some curious 
hybrid figures that are the forerunners of the huge 
winged creatures — the human faces with the body of an 
animal — which w T ere placed at the entrances to large 
halls in Assyrian edifices. 31 An unusually good piece of 
work is a crouching dog carved out of steatite. The 
body is admirably drawn, the legs are in an easy posi- 
tion and true to nature, while the face is so carefully 
reproduced as to enable us to specify the breed of mas- 
tiff to which it belongs. It bears an inscription on its 
side, indicating that the object was a votive offering 
on the part of King Sumulailu, (c. 2211-2176 B.C.), to 
the goddess Nin-Isin, ' ( lady of Isin. ' ' 82 Attached to the 
back is a cylindrical-shaped vase, but it is more than 
likely that this attachment which spoils the effect is of 
later date. At Telloh also a large number of heads 
of lions have been found serving as mace heads or as 
decorations on bowls, or supports for thrones (Plate 
LII) . While some show greater perfection than others, 
they all testify to the skill displayed in representing the 
majesty and fierceness of the animal 's features. It is only 
when we come to the mane that we encounter the infiu- 

81 See Plate V, Fig. 1. 

" See above, Plate LI, Fig. 2. 



ence of conventionalism, though considerably less 
some specimens than in others. In the combination, how- 
ever, of the human with the animal, neither Babylon- 
ians nor Assyrians were ever able to overcome the im- 
pression of grotesqueness which is the natural result. 
We have nothing in Babylonian or Assyrian art that 
can be placed by the side of the remarkably harmonious 
combination of a human body with an animal head 
which we encounter in Egyptian art In the case of 
the crouching bull with the human head, of which the 
Louvre has several specimens, the grotesqueness is 
heightened by the lack of proportion between the ani- 
mal body and the human body. The head framed in by 
a mighty beard suggests that the symbolism is to be 
traced to Semitic influences. The features too are dis- 
tinctly Semitic, while the strands of the beard ending 
in curls suggest the typical arrangement in the case of 
representations of Assyrian monarchs, merely some- 
what simpler than the later more elaborate and more 
conventionalized style. The head, however, looks as 
though it had been stuck on the body as an after 
thought (see Plate LIII). 

One of the two specimens of this hybrid figure is an 
interesting illustration of inlay work, of which the 
Babylonian artists were exceedingly fond. The inlay- 
ing was done with yellow shells inserted into the black 
steatite so as to give the effect of a streaked bull. The 
result is again a grotesqueness which reflects on the 
good taste of the artist. Because of the subject anc 
manner of execution, mention may here be made of a 
steatite vase with strange mythical monsters, the effect 
of which is heightened by the incrusted little shells to 
represent the scaled backs of the winged serpents with 
scorpions' tails and talons resembling those of eagles. 
Like the human-headed bull, there is a latent symbol- 
ism, though perhaps of a different order. The serpent 
is no doubt to be regarded as the emblem of the god 



Ningishzida to whom, as the accompanying inscription 
shows, the vase is dedicated by Gudea, the famous ruler 
of Lagash, The repetition of the symbol is for the 
sake of symmetry. Each of the serpents holds a hilted 
weapon, also encountered on other monuments* The 
other two serpents, more true to nature, entwined 
around a pole appear to serve merely decorative pur- 
poses, the mouths of the two serpents meeting at the 
edge of the vase, which evidently was a cult object, used 
in pouring out libations to the god to whom the vase is 
dedicated. The bodies of these serpents are likewise 
incrustated, and in contrast to the very grotesque 
mythical beings, the two entwined serpents are remark- 
ably realistic. The whole object, unique in its design 
and original in its execution, ranks among the best 
specimens of Babylonian sculpture, and illustrates the 
wide range of that art. (See PL 71, Fig. 2.) 

It may of course be an accident that we have not 
found nearly so many specimens of sculpture in the 
round as of bas-reliefs, but it is perhaps not unrea- 
sonable to conjecture that the difficulties involved may 
account for the fact. Custom, too, which is so large a 
factor in the development of art, may have led to the 
stele with a sculptured design as the type of the monu- 
ment of an individual, having the advantage of more 
space for the accompanying inscriptions which was a 
chief motive with those who set up such monuments of 
themselves, or who had votive offerings prepared for 


It is time now to turn to Assyrian sculpture, which, 
while showing its dependence upon that of Babylonia, 
nevertheless strikes out in new directions and shows 
traits of a decidedly original character. In the choice 
of subjects Assyrian art reflects the ambitions of the 
rulers and the martial spirit of the people. Our ma- 


terial is not sufficient to enable us to follow the develop- 
ment of Assyrian sculpture through its various phases. 
We cannot carry it further back at present than the 
twelfth century, and the specimens up to the middle of 
the ninth century are so few that we must for the 
present begin the survey from the comparatively late 
period when Assyria was already approaching the 
zenith of her pow T er. It seems, however, safe to assert 
that the general traits of Assyrian sculpture are already 
fixed several centuries before Ashurnasirpal III. (883- 
859 B.C.). The dependency upon Babylonian proto- 
types is seen in the portrayal of the human figure, 
which remains throughout the entire period stiff, life- 
less and extremely conventionalized. On the other 
hand, there is considerable advance in showing soldiers 
and huntsmen in action, though here too conventional- 
ism lays shackles on the freer development of the art, 
but the most striking contrast to the bas-relief sculp- 
tures of Babylonia is the breaking away from sym- 
bolism in the case of Assyrian art to become purely 
and completely realistic. The result is a decided ad- 
vance in the direction of giving more life to the scenes 
depicted; they come closer to reality. The marching 
soldiers, being no longer chosen to symbolize the kind 
that marched to an attack, move with greater ease. The 
attack is effectively pictured in a continuous series of 
designs, each representing some striking moment in the 
battle, whether real or due to the fancy of the artist is 
of little moment. Even if the scene is based on a real 
occurrence, the execution is fanciful- — a circumstance 
which affords a larger and freer scope to the artist's 
imagination, so essential to the development of a true 

The palace walls of Ashurnasirpal were covered 
with bas-reliefs illustrative of incidents in the cam- 
paigns of the king, and picturing his activity in the 
chase, which was the favorite sport of the rulers. A 
few specimens of each will suffice to show the remark- 




able vigor displayed in portraying armies in action, as, 
for example, in attacking a city by means of a battering 
ram, reinforced by archers, who come into a hand-to- 
hand encounter with the enemy. The attention to de- 
tails is also noticeable in the trappings of the horses and 
in the military equipment of rulers, of the high officers 
and of the common soldiers. The grouping of the 
figures is also carried out with taste and skill, though 
occasionally the scenes are too crowded, and the im- 
pression is blurred through the endeavor of the artist to 
show too much. A defect of the art at this period which 
is particularly noticeable in the hunting scenes is the 
stiffness and awkwardness in the drawing of the ani- 
mals, so much inferior in this respect to the representa- 
tion of the human figure. While the charioteer who 
drives the horses with the king at his side, discharg- 
ing the arrows at the approaching lion, admirably dis- 
plays the strain on the muscles of the arm and the 
tension in the face as he tries to control the dashing 
steeds, the horses themselves seem to be suspended in 
the air. The artist fails to convey the impression that 
the horses are speeding along, despite the posture of 
the forelegs, evidently intended to suggest a rapid dash. 
There is, indeed, a certain degree of force in the faces of 
the horses, but a comparison between a number of the 
bas-reliefs reveals that this expression is stereotyped 
and falls therefore under the ban of conventionalism. 
The limitations of the art are even more apparent when 
it comes to the portrayal of the lions in pursuit, or 
w r ounded by the arrows shot at them. The artist suc- 
ceeds in his attempt to convey the impression of the 
pain and terror endured by the hunted animal, but the 
convulsions of the body are drawn in so awkward a 
manner as to border on the grotesque. We shall note 
as we proceed to later generations the progress made in 
this respect until at the highest point of its develop- 
ment, the Assyrian art is remarkably successful also in 
the naturalness and variety of the poses given to lions, 




wild horses and other animals when pursued or wounded 
by the royal sportsmen (see Plate VIII). 

The best specimens of the art in the early period 
are those in which the king is portrayed surrounded 
by his attendants or officers. These are marked by the 
most scrupulous attention to details, as, for example, 
in the scene where the king is portrayed with the bow 
in one hand and a bowl in the other containing a liba- 
tion to be offered to the deity after the chase. The 
embroidery, borders ami tassels of the royal garment 
are executed with the greatest possible care. Not a 
detail is overlooked, down to the embroidery on the 
edge of the short sleeves. Necklace, bracelets and ear- 
rings as well as sandals are similarly worked out in 
detail, while both in the case of the king and of the 
eunuch with the fly-flap standing before him, almost 
every strand of the abundant hair can be distinguished. 
The endeavor is also made to indicate the strong mus- 
cles of the arm, though owing to the substance — a rather 
hard limestone — this feature can hardly be termed an 
artistic success. The pose of the figures is easy and 
dignified, that of the king effectively conveying the 
impression also of royal majesty (see Plate LV). 

The palace at Khorsabad 33 of Sargon, who ruled 
from 721-706 B.C., and the f oimder of the dynasty which 
gave to Assyria its most famous rulers, has yielded a 
large number of specimens of sculptured bas-reliefs 
which enable us to trace the beginnings of the art which 
manifests itself chiefly in the growing complexity of 
the designs. The artists of each succeeding age evi- 
dently vied with their predecessors in the endeavor to 
vary the monotony of the two main subjects chosen for 
illustration — war and sport — by the greatest possible 
diversity in the details. To accomplish this, the scale 
of representation was magnified, and each episode of 

** See above Plate IV and V, and for further illustrations Botta 
etFlandin, Monument de Ninive, (Paris, 1849). 



the campaign or the chase selected correspondingly 
amplified by introducing as many figures as possible, 
and all in action. 

There is, however, the same stiff conventionalism 
in the beardless figures carrying portions of the royal 
throne. Not only are the faces devoid of expression, 
but there is a total lack of any indication of muscular 
action. In contrast to these defects, great care is be- 
stowed on the dress and on such details as the trappings 
of the horses and the carving of the ornaments of the 
throne (see Plate LVI, Fig. 1). 

An attempt at introducing variety into what might 
otherwise be monotonous representations is to be seen 
in the portrayal of Assyrian workmen, transporting 
wood across a stream. The large variety of marine life 
is portrayed in a most vivid manner, and likewise the 
action of the sailors rowing the ships or loading or un- 
loading large bars of wood which, it will be observed 
in some cases, are placed on a deck above the heads of 
the rowers, and in others are attached to the stern of 
the boat (see Plate LVI, Fig. 2). 

The limits put upon the art through the extreme 
conventionalism is shown in the representation of 
attacks upon forts, such as the one here given, which 
despite its mutilated character is sufficiently well pre- 
served to give the characteristics of the art of the period. 
Note the similarity of posture in the case of those ap- 
pearing at the openings of the various parts of the fort, 
and the stiff and naive method of representing the vari- 
our stories of the fort and the lack of perspective (Plate 
LIV, Fig. 2). Even more characteristic is the large 
figure of the Babylonian hero Gilgamcsh represented in 
the act of strangling a lion, which evidently formed one 
of the achievements of the hero. The beard is drawn in 
the usual conventionalized style, but there is an ex- 
pression of great power in the face, due, to be sure, more 
to the exaggeration of the features than to artistic 
delicacy. The expression on the lion's face is ludicrous, 



by overcrowding. Here everything is drawn on a 
proper scale. There are just enough details to enable 
us to interpret the scene correctly, which thus answers 
the conditions suitable for the genuine illustration of an 
historical text. Less satisfactory is the endeavor to 
portray the actual attack on the city of Lachisb, which 
evidently stood on an eminence. This portrayal in- 
volved problems of perspective which were beyond the 
range of the Assyrian artist, but despite this defect 
the grouping of the figures is again skilfully carried 
out. We receive the impression of a very large and 
successful army in the aim of the arrows of the sol- 
diers, as well as in the damage done by the machines of 
war, hurling heavy catapults against the walls of the 
besieged town (see Plate LVIII). 

Very effective, again, are a series of designs show- 
ing the loading and the transporting of one of the huge 
colossal human-headed bulls intended for the palace 
of the king. The mechanical devices for moving this 
heavy object are shown in so clear a manner as to make 
any further commentary useless. The bull is placed 
on a huge sled supported by rollers, which are moved 
as required so as to reduce the power necessary to pull 
the sled. The men carrying the extra poles and the 
extra ropes are shown, as well as the officers standing 
on the colossal figure and giving the necessary direc- 
tions. Of particular interest is the representation of 
the manner in which the lever at one end is pulled down 
through the united strength of a large number of men, 
who attach themselves by means of ropes to the enor- 
mous crowbar (see Plate LIX). 

Through these illustrations one also obtains an idea 
of the large number of workmen at the disposal of the 
rulers for the purpose of erecting their great buildings 
and for their building operations. Human life appears 
to have been an exceedingly cheap commodity in Assy- 
rian days. There was never any lack of men to equip 
the enormous armies and, similarly, the king was never 


in lack of the many thousands required for the constant 
task of building temples and palaces and other huge 

By far the most elaborate and on the whole the 
most artistic sculptural decorations of the royal palaces 
of Assyria date from the days of the grand monar< 
Ashurbanapal (668-626 b.c.), in whose reign the artis- 
tic development of Assyria as well as her military glory 
reached its height. It is necessary to see for one's seLf 
at the British Museum, or in the series of photographs 
made from the originals, the extended group of the 
scenes of warfare and of the hunt sculptured on bas- 
reliefs that lined the walls of the large rooms of the 
palace of the king at Nineveh, in order to realize the 
general plan followed by the artists in thus illustrating 
the campaigns of the king and their royal master's sport 
(Plate LX). Such is the attention given to details 
that by means of these bas-reliefs we can follow, even 
without the accompanying descriptive texts and the 
elaborate annals that we possess of the king's reign, 
the course of his mad chase for power and glory. The 
criticism to be passed on many of the limestone or ala- 
baster slabs is that the artist attempts, particularly in 
the battle scenes, to put too much in a limited space. 
The scenes are frequently too crowded for artistic eff< 
The horses in these scenes are particularly well executed ; 
they dash along with fiery spirit and add to the im- 
pression of the fierceness of the fight (see Plate LXI). 

The scenes here chosen are taken from the series 
illustrative of the campaign of Ashurbanapal against 
Teumman, King of Susa, Assyria's most powerful 
rival. We see the Assyrian monarch in his chariot in 
the midst of the fray, hotly intent upon capturing 
Teumman himself, who in one of the scenes is depicted 
as defended by his son. We see as the climax of the 
struggle the Eiamite king decapitated, a part of the 
Susian army thrown into the river and the rest taken 



prisoners. In a continuation of the campaign we ob- 
serve the procession of prisoners and the head of Teum- 
man carried off as a trophy of war in a chariot; and 
as the fitting close to the campaign, Ashurbanapal and 
his queen are seated in a garden, enjoying life, while 
as a ghastly, silent witness to the domestic scene the 
head of Teumman hangs in the arbor overarching the 
divans oh which the king and queen are lying in an 
easy posture (Plate LXII). 


A subdivision of the Babylonian-Assyrian art in 
which unusual skill was developed at an early period 
and which reached an even higher degree of perfection 
in Assyria was the work in metals — notably copper and 
bronze but also silver. Abundant evidence has been 
found that the Euphrates Valley had its stone age which 
no doubt overlapped as elsewhere into the age of metals. 
As early as the third millennium we find specimens of 
engraving on copper blades, and of copper and bronze 
statuettes and other votive objects that testify to the 
high antiquity of the metallurgical art. Despite its bad 
state of preservation, there is much to admire in the 
figure of a lion engraved on the tang of a copper blade, 
found at Telloh and which, measuring about 31V2 inches 
in length, belonged to a lance which, as the partially 
effaced inscription shows, was dedicated by a "king of 
Kish M to some deity. 85 The head of the lion is well 
drawn and, but for the conventionalized shape of the 
mane, the general effect is pleasing. Another object 
of copper, 36 belonging perhaps to a still earlier period, 
shows a lion in a crouching position attached to a 

" Decouvcries en Chaldee, PL 5 ter, No. 1 ; see also ib., PL 6 ter 
No. 2. 

** Found at Bismya (see Banks, Bismya, p. 237). Banks speaks 
of the object as bronze, but it is probably copper, as Handcock, 
Mesopotamian Arch&ology, p. 251, suggests, with an accidental alloy. 



spike. Wliile the shape of the head betrays a certain 
crudeness, and the body is somewhat foreshortened, yet 
there is much life in the effect as a whole, due to the 
admirable manner in which the legs are portrayed, 
conveying the impression of an animal about to leap at 
some prey. Passing by some representations of ani- 
mals moulded out of copper but so covered with oxidiza- 
tion as to be not clearly distinguishable, a fair idea of 
the traits of this art may be obtained from a series of 
votive statuettes, showing male and female figures 
carrying baskets on their heads, kneeling gods, female 
figures and animals in various poses. The basket 
bearers are of two types, one in which only the upper 
part of the body is shown, while the other portion, sug- 
gesting a skirt reaching to the feet, is taken up with a 
dedicatory inscription, the other in which the whole 
body is shown, the upper part and the legs being nude, 
while a short skirt hangs down from the waist, afford- 
ing space for the inscription of the ruler who offers the 
statuette as a votive gift The most striking feature of 
these figures is the graceful attitude of the hands in 
balancing the basket on the head ; the least satisfactory 
is the blank expression on the face, and this despite the 
fact that the simple features are drawn in good propor- 
tion. In contrast to the awkward position of the feet 
on the sculptures in soft or hard stone, the pose is per- 
fectly natural here. The figure stands firm and yet 
easy. There is also well expressed in the dignified atti- 
tude of the statues as a whole the devotion to a deity, 
symbolized, as in the case of the Ur-Nina plaques ST by 
the workman's basket indicative of a direct participa- 
tion in the erection of a sacred edifice. Belonging to a 
period not far removed from that of Gudea we have 
several specimens of votive objects, consisting of a cone 
to be fastened to some part of a temple or sanctuary and 
to which the figure of a kneeling god is attached — rather 

87 Above, Plate XL VI, Fig. 1. 




awkwardly to be sure. The figures themselves, how- 
ever, are exceedingly well executed. The body is well 
moulded, the features are clean cut, there is a vigorous 
expression in the eye, the nose is powerful and the 
mouth firm. The head is slightly out of proportion to 
the body, though not to such a degree as in the case of 
the statue of Gudea. We thus get the impression of 
a somewhat thick-set figure, which, however, is partly 
due to the fact that the Sumerians were a people of 
short build ; they, therefore, pictured their gods in the 
same general style, though this did not hinder them 
from representing them as much taller than themselves, 
just as the kings were drawn as larger than the common 
folk (see Plate LXIH). 

Much cruder are a series of votive statuettes, serv- 
ing as amulets and stuck apparently into the walls as a 
protection against the encroachment of evil demons. 
They all have heads of females, but only the upper part 
of the body is clearly indicated. The clasped hands are 
poorly executed, the faces somewhat more carefully 
modelled, while the hair hanging about the neck has the 
appearance of a wig (Plate LXIV, Fig. 1) . The gro- 
tesqueness is accentuated in some of the statuettes which 
are provided with a large flat ring shaped like a bird's 
tail, into which they were slipped to aid in bearing the 
burden of a tablet of stone attached to the heads (Plate 
LXIV, Fig. 2), and bearing a dedicatory inscription. 
In some cases, however, these tablets were bored with 
holes into which the heads of the statuettes were in- 
serted. Such statuettes were found in groups, buried in 
hollows and walled in with bricks and bitumen. Per- 
haps the fact that they were to be kept out of view ac- 
counts for the little care bestowed on their execution. 
Eising again to a high degree of workmanship are heads 
and bodies of animals belonging likewise to a very early 
period. A crouehing bull on the top of a nail provided 
with a point to be stuck into a wall is an admirable piece 
of work, the head being weU modelled, the body in pro- 



portion and the pose natural (Plate LXIII). Equally 
good is a bronze bull standing on a flat support, though 
the artistic effect is spoiled somewhat by the bits of 
silver inlaid across the body to represent the variegated 
coloring of the skin. The head with the gracefully 
shaped horns is particularly well done. Still finer are 
two animal heads hollowed out of copper, one a bull's 
head found at Telloh, the other that of a Markhur goat 
with elaborately crumpled horns. The eyes in the one 
head are inlaid with mother of pearl, while the pupils 
are of lapis lazuli ; in the other case, the eyes are made of 
shell, the pupils being colored dark brown(Plate LXV). 

The extensive use to which copper was put in Baby- 
lonia is shown by the very large number and variety of 
art objects and utensils found in the excavations at 
various sites. Most of these utensils being made for 
purely practical purposes, such as daggers, hatchets, 
knives, fish hooks, spear-heads, and vases and dishes of 
various kinds, have no artistic value, while others that 
may have had were found in such a bad state of preser- 
vation as to render them uncertain witnesses. Moulds 
of clay for metal casting appear to revert to a very early 
age, and most of the smaller copper objects found were 
prepared in this way. Earrings and jewelry of various 
kinds were also made in the same way, as well as bronze 
objects, which belong to a later period after the dis- 
covery of making bronze by adding an alloy of tin had 
been made. The use of bronze becomes more common 
as we pass down the ages until in the best Assyrian 
period it gradually supplants copper. 

Belonging probably to the later Babylonian period, 
is a remarkable bronze plaque, detailing a ceremony 
of exorcism of a demon of disease. The interesting 
feature of this plaque from the artistic point of view 
is the grouping of the figures in the second and third 
rows. In the upper row we have a series of nine sym- 
bols of the chief gods of the pantheon, the crescent 
standing for Sin, the moon god, the eight-rayed star 






for the goddess Ishtar, the stylus to the left of the star 
for Nabu, the god of writing and wisdom, the adjoining 
spear for Marduk, the head of the pantheon, and so on 
through the list. In the second row is a group of seven 
demons, frequently referred to in the incantation 
formulas against the demons of disease, and who are 
regarded as responsible for the bodily ills to which 
human flesh is heir. The third row pictures the cere- 
monies for driving the demons of disease out of the 
victim who lies on a couch with uplifted hands. At 
either end of the couch stands an exorcising priest, 
dressed in a fish skin to symbolize that he is acting for 
Ea, the god of waters, and of whom the fish would be a 
natural symbol. The two deities chiefly invoked in 
incantation rituals 3S are Ea as the god of the watery 
element, and Kusku (or an equivalent) as the god of 
fire, water and fire being looked upon as the two chief 
purifying elements to purge the sufferer from disease 
which was conceived as a kind of impurity. These 
exorcising priests are performing some ceremony to 
symbolize the cleansing of the victim. At the left end is 
an altar with food which typifies the sacrifice offered 
by the sufferer as part of the ceremony. To the right 
of one of the priests the demons are pictured as being 
driven off. In the lowest compartment, the central 
figure is a representation of the demon Labartu, hold- 
ing a serpent in each hand, and with pigs sucking at her 
breasts. She kneels on an ass, and is apparently being 
driven off in a boat by the demon to her left, who 
brandishes a weapon or whip in his uplifted hand. The 
various specimens of food to the right of Labartu may 
again represent offerings made to the demons to induce 
them to release their hold, or to the gods appealed to 
for their aid. The water below Labartu is represented 
by swimming fishes and the shore by two trees at the 
right end. The plaque thus tells the whole story of 

•• Above p. 246 seq. 


the ceremony in a most realistic manner. The sym- 
bolism, it will be noted, dominates the scenes portrayed 
to such an extent that, if it were intelligible to us in all 
its minutest details, we would have a complete picture 
of the incantation rites and of the ideas underlying 
each incident in these rites (Plate LXVI). 

The use of copper in Babylonia either pure or with 
an alloy which converted it into bronze was very exten- 
sive, indeed, as is shown by the large variety of objects, 
mirrors, daggers, spear heads, dishes, cauldr 
weights, etc., found in the mounds. Of the bronze ob- 
jects found in Babylonia a bell, now in the Berlin Mu- 
seum, merits to be singled out because of the unusually 
delicate design running around the cup, and which 
again represents demons portrayed as wild animals of 
hybrid character, in an upright posture and in a 
threatening attitude. Five of them have the heads of 
hyenas, but have human hands and apparently also 
human bodies; they are clothed in short skirts, and the 
grotesqueness is increased by the tails and clawed feet; 
the sixth has a human shape, while in the midst of these 
demons is again the exorcist, clothed in fish scales to 
symbolize him as the priest of the water god Ea with 
whose aid the demons are being driven away. The 
symbolism is extended to the handles of the bell which 
are in the form of serpents, and to the turtles and to 
another design the exact nature of which escapes us. 
Presumably these designs are emblems of the gods like 
those on the boundary stones, 3 * added as further pro- 
tection against the mischievous workings of the evil 
demons (Plate LXVII). 


In Assyria we find bronze gradually supplanting 
the use of copper, though copper also continued in use 
to the latest period. Among the large variety of bronze 

■• See below p. 416 seq. 






objects discovered in Assyrian mounds a series of 
bronze weights in the shape of animals arrest our atten- 
tion by the admirable drawing of the body and head 
of the lions. 40 It is clear, of course, that such objects 
were cast by means of moulds, and presumably in the 
case of large and heavy objects, the moulds were of 
stone or of bronze, while for smaller objects clay 
moulds probably served as a more convenient and also 
a simpler method. A high degree of art is reached in 
repousse work and engraving on bronze. Of the 
former art we fortunately have some remarkable speci- 
mens in strips of bronze discovered at Balawat — the 
site of an Assyrian town, Imgur-Bel— some fifteen 
miles southeast of Nineveh and which were originally 
attached to large wooden gates belonging probably to 
the palace erected by Shalmaneser III. (858-824 B.C.), 
at that place. 41 The doors themselves were over twenty 
feet high, six feet wide and three inches thick. The 
scenes represented on the bronze strips were intended 
to illustrate the campaigns of the king. The method 
followed was to beat out the designs on the reverse, and 
then to finish it on! with a graver on the right side. 
There are indications of the hands of several artists in 
the work, for some of the strips are superior in work- 
manship to those on others. The chief defect is in the 
lack of perspective, which makes itself felt when large 
numbers of personages are represented together and 
who thus appear to be closely crowded; but consider- 
ing the difficulties involved in the indication of details, 
it is remarkable with what skill the camp life of the 
Assyrian army and the same army in action is brought 
before us, and this despite the fact that the animals, 

40 See e.g., Mansell, British Museum Photographs No, 585 and 
Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 1st Series, PL 96. 

41 Birch & Pinches, The Bronze Ornaments of the Palace Gates 
of Balawat (London, 1880) ; and Billerbeck and Delitzsch, Die 
Palasttore Salmanassars II von Balawat (Beitr%e zur Assyriologie, 
vi, pp. 1-155 and 4 plates). See Plate LXVIII and LXIX. 



more particularly the horses, are depicted in a vei 
conventional fashion* On the other hand the groups 
of marching men — soldiers and prisoners — are fre- 
quently full of life and vigor, as are the scenes depict- 
ing the attacks upon the walled cities of the enemy and 
the camp scenes which are valuable also as illustrations 
of details in the life of an Assyrian army. The finest 
specimens, however, of the work of the engraver 01 
metal arc a number of remarkable bronze bowls found at 
Nimrud. The designs repeated like a pattern ar< 
of animals, gazelles, bulls, lions, ibexes, depicted with re- 
markable vividness, or griffins standing before a sacred 
pole, the execution of which is particularly deli< 
(Plate LXX). An interesting feature of these bowls 
is the indication of foreign influence which raises 
indeed the question whether they are native Assyrian 
work. The griffins with the double crown of Upper 
and Lower Egypt on their heads are distinctly Egyp- 
tian, but on the other hand the forms of the poles agree 
with designs found in Babylonian-Assyrian seal cylin- 
ders. Some of the platters also contain inscriptions 
in Phoenician characters, a circumstance that may be 
due to the spread of Aramaic in Babylonia and Assyria 
during the eighth and seventh centuries for which there 
is other evidence/ 2 The animals above referred to are 
precisely the ones which we find on older Babylonian 
works of art, and when, in addition, we encounter so 
genuinely Babylonian a design as the conflict between 
bulls and lions on the bronze bowls, there can scarcely be 
any doubt that we are in the presence of native work, 
which in the later centuries of Babylonian-Assyrian 
history was particularly subject to foreign influences. 
The wide use of bronze for the manufacture of 

42 We find on business documents of Assyria and Babylonia from 
the eighth to the fourth century endorsements in Aramaic. 
Clay, Same Aramaic Endorsements on Documents of 
in Harper Memorial Studies, vol. i, pp. 285-322. 

.Aramaic. k >ee 







ornaments such as rings, bracelets, trinkets and amulets 
or talismans is illustrated by many specimens, though 
it cannot be said on the basis of what has been found 
that a high degree of artistic perfection was reached 
until we come to the Persian period when new influences 
found their way into Mesopotamia. 

Gold and silver were also largely used for ear-rings, 
necklaces, 43 for inlaid work and as coverings for ceil- 
ings and walls in part or for royal thrones, while it did 
not appear to be even unusual for statues of gods to be 
made entirely of gold. A Babylonian ruler of the 
middle of the ninth century, Nabupaliddin, tells us that 
he prepared a statue of Shamash, the sun-god, made of 
gold and lapis lazuli, and there are good reasons for 
believing that the image of the chief god Marduk which 
stood in his temple at Babylon was entirely of gold. At 
Ashur the explorers found the remains of a gold light- 
ning fork which had been placed in the hands of the 
life-size statue of the storm god Adad. 

We are fortunate in possessing a specimen of the 
silversmith's art, all the more remarkable because of its 
antiquity (Plate LXXI). It was found at Lagash and 
was a dedicatory offering of Entemena (c. 2850 B.C.). 
Resting on a copper base, supported by four lions' feet, 
the vase stands 28 inches above the base. The shape is 
most graceful, but what adds to its artistic merit is the 
delicate engraving running around the centre of crouch- 
ing heifers and of four fantastic eagles with human 
heads, clutching lions and ibexes alternately. The 
upper row of seven heifers is particularly well executed, 
in contrast to the grotesqueness of the lions and to the 
stiff conventionalism of the ibexes. On the other hand, 

** A particularly fine specimen of an early Babylonian gold neck- 
lace in private possession is pictured in Meissner, Grundzuege der 
altbabyloniscken Plastik, p. 64 {Alte Orient, xv, Heft 1 and 2). 
See also Botta et Flandin, Monument de Ninive, Vol. II, PL 161 and 

Handcock, Mesopotamian Archaeology, p. 348. 



there is a certain dignity in the eagle with the human 
face, the symbolism of which is of the same general 
character as in the case of the winged creatures stand- 
ing before the sacred tree. Significant, however, in the 
case of all the figures on the silver vase is the delicacy 
of the work, in which respect it has rarely been excelled 
in works of art coming down to us from antiquity. 


A special class of Babylonian monuments which 
enter into the subject of the art because of the symboli- 
cal designs engraved on them are the so-called "boun- 
dary stones' ' which, recording either certain land privi- 
leges granted to individuals by royal decree or the trans- 
fer of property made by a legal procedure, were set up 
at the boundary of the property in question as memo- 
rials of the gift or transfer. A large number of such 
boundary stones have been found in the course of 
excavations,* 4 dating from the fourteenth to the twelfth 
centuries— coincident with the period of the Cassite con- 
trol of Babylonia. 

At the close of the inscription on the monument 
describing the property in detail and the terms of gift 
or transfer, there were added long series of curses, 
in the names of the various gods, hurled against those 
who interfered with the rights recorded or who injured 
in any way the monument itself* As a further warning 
against transgressors the symbols of the gods were 
engraved on these monuments, and it is from this point 
of view that they are of interest to the student of Baby- 
lonian art. The symbols themselves are very numerous, 
consisting of symbols of the heavens, thrones, and ani- 
mals of various kinds. Three symbols which are never 
missing are the moon's crescent, the symbol of the 

44 See L. W. King's Introduction to Memorials and Boundary 
Stones in the British Museum (London, 1912), and Morgan and 
Scheil, Delegation en Perse, Memoires I, pp, 165-182. 





moon-god Sin; the solar disc and the rays of light, 
symbolizing Shamash the sun-god; and the sixteen- 
rayed star, symbolizing the goddess Ishtar, who was 
identified in the astrological system with the planet 
Venus. The three thrones, often surmounted by royal 
caps, are the symbols of the great triad, Ann, Enlil and 
Ea, while among the animals portrayed on these monu- 
ments we encounter the scorpion, the symbol of the 
goddess Ishkhara, the tortoise, the crouching lion, the 
symbol of Nergal, and the lion-headed mace, the symbol 
of Ninib (see Plates LXXII and LXXIII). 

These and other animals are frequently drawn with 
great skill confirming the characteristics of Babylonian 
art in the portrayal of animals as we have had occasion 
to set them forth. The same applies to a remarkable 
drawing of a wolf on one of these monuments, 45 and 
even the fantastic figures on these monuments such as 
winged lions, bulls and sphinxes, show remarkable 
vigor as well as considerable skill. Occasionally the 
portrait of a king is added. A particularly good speci- 
men showing a remarkable attention to minute details 
is to be found in the case of a boundary stone of the 
time of Marduk-nadin-akhe in which the royal chief 
of the country is thus portrayed. 46 There is, to be sure, 
a conventional stiffness about the face which applies 
also to the picture of the goddess Gula, who is not in- 
frequently represented by the image of herself on the 
boundary stone, accompanied by a dog (Plate LXXII, 
Fig. 2). The combination of these symbols, which are 
arranged in rows or in circles, gives a weird yet at the 
same time impressive appearance to the monument. The 
order in which the symbols are arranged varies some- 
what. The moon, the eight- or sixteen-rayed star and 
the sun-disc are invariably found at the head of the 
monument, followed usually by the thrones representing 

45 King, Plate 91. 
*• See above, Plate XXIV, Fig. 2. 



Anu, Enlil and Ea, though at times the latter god is re- 
placed by his more specific symbol, a combination of goat 
and fish, holding on his back a throne with a ram's head. 
Among the animals, attention might also be directed to 
the dog of the goddess Gula which is generally exceed- 
ingly well drawn. Among smaller animals there is the 
falcon on a pole, the symbol of the goddess Bau, and 
another bird generally represented as marching, and 
which may be an eagle. The lamp (Plate IjX^T TT, 
Pig, 2) is the symbol of the fire-god Nusku* 


We have still to consider a phase of the engraver's 
art represented by the thousands of so-called seal cylin- 
ders, ranging from the earliest to the latest period of 
Babylonian-Asyrian history. These seals, serving as 
seals still do in the modern Orient as a means of identi- 
fying property or as an attest to a legal document, vary 
in shape and size from that of a large, thick, and clumsy 
spool to a graceful and elongated cylinder, with the 
tendency to become smaller as we pass down the ages 
until in the Persian period they become cone shaped. 
The feature common to the Babylonian-Assyrian seals 
of all ages is the perforation through which a thread 
or wire was passed, so that the seal might be worn 
around the neck or carried on the wrist Herodotus is 
our witness 4ea that in his days a seal and a walking 
stick still formed part of the outfit of a Babylonian man 
of affairs. The materials of which the seals were made 
cover likewise a large variety of materials, shell being 
the earliest known material, and hematite the most 
common, but chalcedony, obsidian, agate, jasper, lapis 
lazuli, marble, serpentine, quartz, carnelian, crystal and 
other mineral substances were also largely used. In the 
case of soft stones, the engraver's tool was probably 
made of flint, for the harder ones probably of corundum. 

*" Book I, § 195. 





■ 'MR. * ' 

H " 1 nKr 

\ \ 1 

-I A ' 


BOUND AKV Romn - • 


IK 1 1 \|)\nv STONES . . 



Dr. Ward * 7 has shown that in the earlier periods the 
seals were entirely made by hand, and that drilling was 
not introduced till the later periods, though exactly 
when it is impossible to say. 

In addition to mythological designs, the seal cylin- 
ders frequently contain the name of the owner or a 
dedicatory inscription to some deity. Through the 
character of the writing, and in the case of royal seals 
or those of high officials through the names a means can 
be found of dating some of the seals, while through the 
occurrence of certain designs impressed on clay tablets 
bearing a date, a further control is secured for the age 
of these designs. The art in the earliest seals is exceed- 
ingly crude, so crude as frequently to border on gro- 
tesqueness, but in the course of centuries the progress 
made was considerable until we reach a time when the 
delicacy of the execution reaches a truly remarkable 
degree of perfection. By way of illustration we may 
choose the representation of two deities facing one 
another, each reaching out a hand to grasp a tube 
through which to drink a liquid placed in a bowl stand- 
ing on a high table. The scene is presumably a sacrifi- 
cial one, though it may also represent an episode in 
some myth. The faces are indicated in bare outline. 
The drawing throughout is rough and irregular, and 
the artist found difficulty even in representing the two 
figures as actually seated on the stools beneath them. 
The crescent as a symbol of the moon suggests that 
the two deities are Sin and his consort Ningal. Con- 
trast with this the design on a cylinder also belonging 
to an early period, 48 representing a mythical figure, 
Enkidu, fighting with a lion. The design is repeated, 

* T Seal Cylinders of Western Asia, p. 9. This is the most com- 
prehensive investigation of the subject, and one that will for many 
years retain its place as the authoritative work. 

48 Ward, Cylinders and Other Ancient Oriental Seals in the 
library of J. Pierpont Morgan (N. Y., 1909), No. 60. 



as is frequently the case on cylinders. While the atti- 
tude of both man and lion leaves much to be desired, 
the drawing of both figures is remarkably good. Note 
particularly the shaggy mane of the lion and the care- 
fully drawn strands of Enkidu's beard. The roar of 
the lion as Enkidu plunges the weapon into the lion's 
breast is admirably suggested by the open mouth. In 
the case of both man and animal the attempt at least 
is made to indicate the muscles of the body. Even finer 
in execution is the representation of the sun-god 
Shamash with streams of water issuing from his 
shoulders, into whose presence a two-headed figure is 
introducing two others, the one carrying a bunch of 
dates on a staff slung over his shoulder, the other carry- 
ing a bound man strung up by the heel on the club, like- 
wise slung over his shoulder. The three figures move 
towards the god in a most graceful fashion, the position 
is easy, the garments fit admirably to the bodies, while 
in the case of Shamash, there is, despite the conven- 
tionality in the drawing of the flounced skirt and upper 
garment, a certain dignity about the figure as a whole 
which suggests a superior being (Plate LXXV, Fig. 3) . 
The most striking feature of these seal cylinders 
is the variety of the designs. Through them we obtain 
an insight into the manner in which Babylonians and 
Assyrians represented their gods and goddesses. The 
rich symbolism of the cult also finds an illustration in 
the various designs, and lastly the current myths and 
popular tales are revealed to us in a most graphic man- 
ner through the engravings on the seal cylinders. Epi- 
sodes in popular tales formed a favorite subject for the 
artists who, while bound to certain conventionalism, 
yet astonish us by the variations which they introduce 
in the portrayal of one and the same subject. A large 
number of seal cylinders of the earliest periods show a 
contest among wild beasts — lions, ibexes, bulls, ante- 
lopes. No two are exactly alike, and it is interesting to 
note even in this early age the endeavor to reproduce 




a continuous story by a division into registers 40 as in 
the case of sculptured plaques, though at times the two 
divisions are not even separated by a dividing line. An 
example which illustrates the thoroughly archaic char- 
acter of the art shows in the upper portion an eagle, 
the heraldic standard of the city of Lagash, 50 clutching 
with one of his claws a bull lying prostrate. The bull has 
evidently been killed and a vulture is seen feeding on his 
body. In the lower section a hunter appears in the 
midst of lions and ibexes fighting with one another. 
The star and the scorpion to one side are symbols of 

Closely allied with these episodes in some popular 
tale are the numerous variations on seal cylinders of 
the episode in the adventures of the great hero Gil- 
gamesh who with his companion Enkidu engages in a 
contest with wild beasts. 61 In the earliest specimens 
both figures appear entirely nude. Oilgamesh is always 
distinguished by his abundant and usually carefully 
arranged hair and beard, while Enkidu has horns on 
his head as a symbol of his divine character, The varia- 
tions of the scene are again numerous, though not to the 
same extent as in the case of the contests of wild beasts. 

Another favorite scene was the representation of 
the semi-divine beings in front of the sacred tree, 52 ap- 
pearing again in many variations. 63 In archaic ex- 
amples the two figures are without wings, and it is a 
distinguishing mark of cylinders of Assyrian origin to 
attach the wings. As on the sculptured bas-reliefs we 
also find the king before the tree, accompanied by the 
eagle-headed winged creature with the standard of 

49 See the illustrations in Ward, Seal Cylinders of Western Asia, 
Chapter IY. 

00 Above p. 389 and Plate XLIX, Fig. 1. 

11 Seal Cylinders of Western Asia, Chapter X. 

"Above Plate XXXIII. 

M Ward, Seal Cylinders of Western Asia, Chapter XXXVIII. 


Ashur over the tree. Among the variations two call 
for special mention, the winged figures standing on 
winged sphinxes and the priest of the water deity Ea 
clad in fish scales in place of the winged being, 6 * of 
which we again have quite a number of variations ac- 
cording as a king is added to the scene or not. The 
conventionalism of the art obtrudes itself in these scenes 
in a more pronounced degree than usual so as to give 
to the tree more particularly most fantastic forms. The 
pose of the kings and of the winged or wingless beings 
plucking the fruit of the tree of life is always the same, 
and generally very stiff and void of all grace. On the 
other hand the dress is commonly most carefully worked 
out to smallest details, the execution being delicate as 
well as accurate (see Plate LXXVI, Figs. 2 and 3). 

Of the gods represented on the seal cylinders, the 
moon-god Sin and the sun-god Shamash are the ones 
most frequently selected. While it is certain that the 
appearance of the moon * s crescent on or near the figure 
of a seated deity into whose presence a worshipper is 
being led is not always intended as the moon-god, in 
many instances Sin is certainly intended. A good speci- 
men of an early period is the seal cylinder of Ur-Engur 
of the Ur dynasty who is being led by a female — per- 
haps the consort of Sin — followed by another goddess 
with uplifted hands, the gesture of intercession. The 
human figure is no doubt intended for the king himself 
who is represented, in accordance with early religious 
usage in approaching a god, as shaven and beardless. 
Despite its crudity, the figure of the seated god in an 
easy posture conveys the impression of a certain dig- 
nity. The throne on which the god sits is a graceful 
piece of work, and the artist has not stopped short of 
such a detail as the carving of one of the legs of the 
throne in imitation of an ox's leg. In a most skilful 
manner he has also succeeded in conveying the femi- 







ninity in the expression of the two goddesses — especially 
of the first one — in contrast to the greater strength of 
the face of the god and of the worshipper (see Plate 
LXXVII, Fig. 2). 

A favorite manner of representing the sun-god was 
in the act of rising over the mountains. The god is 
naively portrayed as stepping on a mountain peak and 
about to pass through a gate symbolizing sunrise, while 
the other gate is the one through which, after having 
run his course, he enters the heavens at evening. In 
this case again we find the design with many varia- 
tions 65 used from the oldest to the latest period— an 
interesting proof of the continuity of artistic tradition 
in the Euphrates Valley. The art, to be sure, does not 
rise beyond a very primitive level in the specimens pre- 
served, though in some instances the influence of con- 
ventionalism is not so marked as, for example, in those 
where the mountain has been reduced to a mere foot- 
stool on which the one foot of the god rests, while 
instead of the gate we find a worshipper led into the 
presence of Shamash by the god's consort, A, whose 
uplifted hands portray her in the usual role of inter- 
ceding on behalf of the worshipper who approaches his 
god with a sacrificial offering. 

Superior from an artistic standpoint are some of 
the representations of the seated sun-god with a wor- 
shipper before him. The distinguishing marks of 
Shamash in these designs are the rays issuing from his 
shoulders or streams flowing from his shoulders. This 
combination of rays and streams is also found attached 
to the solar disc which is the common symbol of the 
god Ashur, the rays symbolizing the beneficent warmth 
of the sun, and the water the fertility which is within 
the province of the great orb, whose favor is so essential 
to the well-being of the agriculturist. 

Another interesting group of seal cylinders — chiefly 
Babylonian — is formed by those showing a deity in 

" Ward, U., Chapter XHI. 



a conflict with a dragon. The underlying tale appears 
to be the myth of the sun-god driving away the storms 
and rains of the winter season. This season was de- 
picted as a time of lawlessness and utter confusion for 
which a monstrous being in control of the wild elements 
of nature seemed to be the appropriate symbol. This 
myth became the basis of the scheme of world creation 
in Babylonia, the role of creator being assigned in each 
of the large centres to the chief deity — Ea in Eridu, 
Enlil in Nippur, and Marduk in Babylon, When 
through the political supremacy of Babylon, the god 
Marduk became the head of the pantheon, the functions 
of other gods were assigned to him. He thus becomes in 
the later forms of the myth the vanquisher of primitive 
chaos, known as Tiamat. 66 The springtime when nature 
celebrates a revival was appropriately regarded as the 
time of the creation of the world. Crude as most of the 
representations of this conflict are," there is neverthe- 
less in some of them much force and vigor in the atti- 
tude of the god pursuing the monster with bow and 
arrow or despatching him with a powerful weapon. It 
is particularly interesting to see how in the course of 
the endeavor to vary the scene, elements of other myths 
are introduced — particularly of the one illustrating the 
contest with wild beasts, 58 which may at bottom indeed 
represent the same idea— the portrayal of a time of 
chaos and confusion, preceding the reign of law and 
order in the world (see Plate LXXVI, Figs. 1 and 4) . 
Of special interest is a physician's seal, containing 
the name of the owner Ur-Lugal-Edina (i.e., the man 
of the god Lugal-Edina), with a dedicatory inscription 

M See the translation of the tale of Marduk 's conquest of Tiamat 
pp. 428^43. See atao Plate XXVIII, Fig. h 
" Ward, I.e., Chapter VIII. 
•• Ward, lx. f Chapter VII. 







to a deity, Edina-nmgi, w and shows, as the symbols of 
his profession, a physician's scalpel and lancets (or 
knives) and cups. These instruments are exceedingly 
well drawn, while the picture of the deity — no doubt 
the one mentioned in the inscription— despite the 
archaic delineation of the feet, is a good specimen of the 
delicacy of the engravers 1 art at the early period to 
which the seal reverts (see Plate LXXVII, Fig. 3). 

As the last specimen, a curious design may be given 
representing a male and female figure sitting opposite 
one another with a tree between them, while behind 
the female figure is an upright serpent. The resem- 
blance of the scene to the famous story in the third 
chapter of Genesis has aroused considerable discussion. 
We have the same elements in both cases, the man, the 
woman, the serpent and the tree. The horns, however, 
with which both figures on the seal cylinder are pro- 
vided show that they are intended to represent deities. 
The tree is no doubt the tree of life as in the case of 
the designs above discussed. According to Baby- 
lonian beliefs, the gods alone can pluck the f ruit of the 
tree of life. The serpent is a very common symbol, 60 
constantly appearing on the so-called boundary stones. 
Its particular significance on the seal cylinder in ques- 
tion escapes us, but it may well be that the myth of 
which the entire scene is an illustration is the prototype 
of the story in Genesis. It would be quite natural in 
the course of the adaptation of old folk-tales to later 
aspects of religious beliefs, for the deities to become 

■• The deity is designated as the messenger of Gir, one of the 
designations of the god of pestilence — Nergal — which suggests a 
grim sense of humor on the part of the physician who thus chooses 
as his protecting deity the "messenger of death," against whom the 
healer of disease is supposed to direct his efforts. 

•*See an elaborate monograph on the serpent as a symbol by 
Paul Toscanne, " Etudes sur le Serpent, figure et symbole dans 
FAntiquite Islamite" in Delegation en Perse , Minurircs, Vol. xiii, 
pp. 153-226. 



human figures, and the primitive myth, whatever its 
original significance may have been, to become a tale 
intended to illustrate that man forfeited immortality 
— the prerogative of the gods — by an act of disobedi- 
ence. 61 Man, according to the earlier form of the story, 
would thus be regarded as a god fallen from his high 
estate. From this as a starting point, the step would be 
a natural one to make the real fall of man consist in his 
having disobeyed a divine command. 

91 See Frazer, Belief in Immortality i, p. 73, seq. r for many 
other illustrations among primitive peoples of stories intended to 
explain the presence of death in the world, due either to eating 
of a forbidden fruit, or to the failure to eat it. Both motifs are 
found in these primitive tales. 


I I / 






The Later Babylonian Poem op Creation 

The story of Creation among Babylonians assumed 
the form of a nature myth, based upon the transition of 
winter and the rainy season to the spring and dry season. 
The stormy and rainy winter was pictured as a time of 
chaos and was symbolized by a monster Tiamat, who 
with a large body of attendants, likewise monstrous in 
form, is represented as in control of things. The spring 
sun driving away the winter becomes the vanquisher 
of Tiamat; and after chaos has been overcome, law and 
order prevail. 

Various versions of this nature myth were produced 
in ancient Babylonia, both in Sumerian and in Akka- 
dian. The one here given celebrating the triumph of 
Marduk over Tiamat is the fonn assumed by the story 
after Marduk as the patron deity of the city of Baby- 
lon ' had become the head of the pantheon. To Marduk, 
therefore, as a solar deity the distinction is assigned 
of being the one strong enough among the gods to dis~ 
patch Tiamat and her followers. The poem is a com- 
posite production, and gives evidence of containing 
elements of a number of independent tales that have 
been combined to add to the glory of Marduk. 2 

1 See above, p. 211 seq. 

8 See an article by the writer on "The Composite Character of 
the Babylonian Creation Story" in the Noldeke Festschrift II, 
pp. 969-982. For a complete edition of the text together with an 
English translation and commentary, see L. W, King, The Seven 
Tablets of Creation (2 vols. London, 1902) ; also Cuneiform Texts, 
Part XIII, Plates 1-41. For the relationship of the Babylonian 
versions of Creation to the Biblical tale, see Jastrow, "Hebrew and 
Babylonian Views of Creation," being' chapter II of the author's 
Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions (New York, 1914). 




The text in its complete form covered seven tablets. 
Of these only the fourth has been preserved in full, 
while of the remaining tablets we have merely larger or 
smaller fragments. 


The poem begins as follows: 

4 'When on high, heaven was not named, 
Below, dry land was not named." 
Apsu, their first begetter, 

Mummu (and) Tiamat, the mother of all of them,* 
Their waters combined together. 
Field was not marked off, sprout had not come forth. 
When none of the gods had yet come forth, 
Had not borne a name, 
No destinies had been fixed 5 ; 
Then gods were created in the midst of heaven." 
Lakhmu and Lakhamu came forth 
Ages increased 7 . . . 
Anshar and Kishar were created." 

*'*To have a name," according to ideas widely prevalent in 
antiquity, was to exist Hence, to express the idea of non-existence 
of heaven and earth it was said that they were not named. 

* These three terms, Apsu (deep)., Mummu (water), and Tiamat 
(sea), are synonymous, each one representing the name of the 
Being symbolizing primeval chaos in some version. The combina- 
tion of the three names and the endeavor to establish a relationship 
between them are indications of the composite character of the 

"One of the functions of the gods is to determine the fate of 
individuals, as well as the future in general. See p. 217 and p. 278. 

The late origin of this form of the poem is shown by the 
transfer of all the gods to the heavens — a reflection of astrological 
views. See above, p. 209. 

7 Defective lines are indicated by leaders, ( . . 

$ An-Shar (the totality of what is above) and Ki-Shar (the 
totality of what 1b below) are H theological " abstractions, rather 
than popular figures of deities in the system of the pantheon as 
perfected by the priests of Babylonia. Anshar and Kishar are, 
according to this By stem, the ancestors of all the gods. 



After many days bad passed by there came forth . . . 

Anu, their son . . , 

Anshar and Anu . . . 

Anu . . . 

Nudimmud " whom his father, his mother, . . . 

Of large intelligence, knowing" (wise), 

Exceeding strong . . . 

Without a rival . . . 

Then were established. 11 

The following seven lines are too fragmentary pre- 
served to permit of translation, but it would appear 
that at this point a description is given of the confusion 
and disturbance aroused among the monsters of the 
deep through the creation of the gods, who saw in this 
rise of the gods a foreshadowing of the end of their 
own rule. Apsu and Mummu together go to Tiamat in 
order to consult with her regarding the plan to keep the 
gods in restraint. 

"Then Apsu, the begetter of the great gods, 
Cried out, to Mummu, to his messenger, he spoke: 
*Oh Mummu, joy of my liver, 
Come, unto Tiamat let us go.' 
They went, and before Tiamat they crouched, 
Hatching a plan with regard to the gods . . , 
Apsu opened his mouth and spoke, 
Unto Tiamat, the splendid one addressed a word: 
1 . . . their course against me 
By day I have no rest, at night I cannot lie down, I wish to destroy 

their course, 
So that clamor cease and we may again lie down to sleep. ' 
When Tiamat (heard) this, 
She raged and shrieked for ( revenge t), 
She herself became furiously enraged. 
Evil Bhe conceived in her heart. 
1 All that we have made let us destroy, 
That their course may be full of misery so that we may have 

release, ' 

* A designation of Ea, the god of the deep. 



Mummu answered and counselled Apsu f 

Hostile was the counsel of Mummu. 

'Come, their course is strong, destroy it! 

Then by day thou wilt have rest, 

At night thou wilt lie down/ 

Apsu( hearkened), and his face shone; 

Evil he planned against the gods, his sons. 1 ' 

The following fifty lines tell of the conflict of 
Mummu and Apsu against the gods which ends in the 
capture of the two ; it appears that they are overcome 
through the agency of Ea, the god of the deep and who, 
it will he recalled/ is pictured as the god of humanity, 
teaching mankind knowledge and saving them in 
distress. It is natural, therefore, to find Ea also in the 
role of the saviuur of the gods, and we may conjecture 
that we have in this part of the story the old version of 
the overcoming of chaos through Ea, the patron god of 
Eridu — a version, therefore, which had its rise in the old 
city that lay at or close to the Persian Gulf. But Tiamat 
still remains at large. Kealizing that she, too, will 
have to face the conflict with the gods, Tiamat gathers 
a new army of followers, described as monstrous ser- 
pents of various kinds, fierce and merciless. With 
these she associates other monsters, and places the en- 
tire army under the generalship of Kingu. The gaps 
in the first tablet at this point can be supplied from 
Tablets II and III in which the description of Tiamat 's 
army is repeated. 

' ' They uttered curses and at the side of Tiamat advanced. 
In fury and rage they devised plans ceaselessly night and day. 
They rushed to the conflict, raging and furious. 
They grouped themselves and ranged the battle array. 
Ummu-Khubur, 11 creator of all things, 
Gathering invincible weapons, she brought forth huge monsters, 

10 Above, p. 210, 

11 A title of Tiamat, signifying probably ' mother of totality.' 
The name points to another version, combined with our tale. 




Sharp of tooth and merciless of fang. 

With poison instead of blood she filled their bodies. 

She clothed with terror the terrible dragons, 

Decking them with brilliancy, giving them a lofty stature, 

So that whoever beheld them would be overcome with terror. 

With their bodies reared up, none could withstand their attack. 

She brought forth great serpents, dragons and the Lakhami," 

Hurricanes, raging dogs and scorpion men, 

Mighty tempests, fish men, and rams, 

Bearing cruel weapons, fearless in combat, 

Mighty in command, irresistible. 

In all eleven monsters of this kind she made. 

Among the gods, the first born who formed the assembly, 

She exalted Kingu, giving him high rank in their midst; 

To march in advance and to direct the host; 

To be foremost in arming for the attack, 

To direct the fight in supreme control, 

To his 1 * hand she confided. She decked him out in costly gar- 
ments : 

*I have uttered thy magic formula, in the assembly of the gods I 
have exalted thee ' 

The dominion over all the gods was entrusted unto his hands : 

'Be thou exalted, my one and only husband; 

May the Anunnaki exalt thy name above all the gods!' 

She gave him the tablets of fate, to his breast she attached them. 

' Oh, thou, thy command will be irresistible ! 

Firmly established be the utterance of thy mouth ! 

Now Kingu is exalted, endowed with the power of Anu; 

Among the gods, his children, he fixes destinies. 

By the word of thy mouth fire will be quenched ; 

The strong in battle will be increased in strength. * ' ' 


In the second tablet the gods learn of the plans of 
Tiamat and hear the description of the mighty army 
which she has gathered. 

" Here a collective name for a group of monsters. 
11 That is> unto Kingu she entrusted the destinies of the army, 
forming in part, at least, descriptions of constellations in the heavens. 



"Tiamat finished her work. 

(The evil that) she contrived against the gods her offspring, 

To avenge Apsu, Tiamat planned evil. 

When she had equipped her army, it was revealed to Ea; 

Ea heard the words, 

And was grievously afflicted, and overwhelmed with grief. 

Days passed by and his anger was appeased. 

To Anshar, his father, he took the way. 

To Father Anshar who begot him he went. 

All that Tiamat had planned he repeated to him. 
1 Tiamat our mother has taken a dislike for us, 

She has assembled a host, she rages furiously. 

All the gods are gathered to her, 

Aye, even those whom thou hast created, march at her side. * ' ' 

It would appear from these words that Tiamat had 
stirred up a rebellion also among the gods descended 
from Anshar and Kishar, and succeeded in gathering 
many of them to her side to proceed with the host of 
monsters against the gods represented as her own off- 
spring, though this is in contradiction to the other point 
of view brought forward in the poem according to which 
Anshar and Kishar are the ancestors of all the gods. 

Anshar, upon hearing the description of the terror- 
inspiring army, is dismayed. He calls upon Ea, who 
has smitten Munmiu and captured Apsu to proceed 
against Tiamat. Unfortunately the text at this point 
is again defective, but it is evident that Ea declines the 
task. Anshar then calls upon another son, Ami, to fight 
the cause of the gods which is the cause of law and order 
against choas and lawlessness, represented by Tiamat 
and her followers. But this son declines or is unable 
to carry out the task, and accordingly we find Anshar 
addressing a third, this time Marduk, who will succeed 
where others fail. 

*Thou art my son of strong courage, 

. . . draw nigh to the battle t 

... at sight of thee there shall be peace. ' 

The Lord rejoiced at the word of his father. 


He drew nigh and stood in front of Anshar ; 
Anshar saw him and his heart was full of joy. 
He kissed him on the mouth, and fear departed from him. 
1 (Oh my father), may the words of thy lips not be taken back, 
May I go and accomplish the desire of thy heart!' 

Marduk repeats these two lines, after which begins 
another address of Anshar to his son " in which he calls 
upon Marduk to * trample swiftly on the neck of 
Tiamat ' The text then continues. 

' Oh my son, full of all knowledge, 
Quiet Tiamat with thy supreme incantation ; 
Quickly proceed (on thy way) 1 

Thy blood wiU not be poured out, thou shalt surely return.* 
The lord rejoiced at the word of his father, 
His heart exulted and he spoke to his father. 
*Oh Lord of the gods, (who fixes) the fate of the great gods, 
If I become thy avenger, 
Conquering Tiamat, and giving life to thee, 
Call an assembly and proclaim the preeminence of my lot! 
That when in Upshukkinaku " thou joyfully seatest thyself, 
My command in place of thine should fix fates. 
What I do should be unaltered, 
The word of my lips be never changed or annulled.* n 


The third tablet opens with an address of Anshar 
unto Gaga his messenger, asking the latter to go to the 
gods that they gather together for a banquet and listen 
to the message which Anshar sends them. The message 
itself recounts the rebellious purpose of Tiamat and 
her brood of monsters, repeats the detailed description 
of the vipers, dragons, hurricanes, raging hounds, fish- 
men and the strange host with Kingu at the head which 
we have already encountered in the epic. 

M Indication of another version. 

u The u Walhalla' ' of the gods where they assemble to determine 




1 Then they gathered and went, 

The great gods, all of them, who fix fates, 

Came into the presence of Anshar, they filled (the assembly hall), 

Embracing one another in the assembly (hall), 

They prepared themselves to feast at the banquet. 

They ate bread, they mixed the wine, 

The sweet mead confused (their senses). 

Drunk, their bodies filled with drink, 

They shouted aloud, with their spirits *• exalted, 

For Marduk, their avenger, they fixed the destiny/ ' 


"They prepared for him a royal chamber, 
In the presence of his fathers as ruler he stood. 
' Thou art the weightiest among the great gods. 
Thy (power of decreeing) fate is unrivalled, thy command is 

(like that of) Ami. 
Oh Marduk, thou art mightiest among the great gods! 
Thy power of decreeing fate unrivalled, thy word is like that of 

Anul lT 
From now on thy decree will not be altered, 
Thine it shall be to raise up and to bring low, 
Thy utterance be established, against thy command no rebellion ! 
None among the gods will transgress the limit ( set by thee) . 
Abundance is pleasing to the shrines of the gods, 
The place of their worship will be established as thy place. 
Oh Marduk, thou art our avenger ! 
We give thee kingship over the entire universe, 
Take thy seat in the assembly, thy word be exalted , 
Thy weapon be not overcome, may it crush thy enemies. 
Oh lord, the life of him who trusts in thee will be spared, 
But pour out the life of the god who has planned evil ' *■ 
Then they placed in their midst a garment. 
To Marduk, their first born, they spoke : 
* Thy fate, lord, be supreme among the gods 1 

,ft Literally/ 'liver." 

" This trait of repeating certain particularly emphatic lines 
is, as we have seen above, p. 433, characteristic of this composition. 

11 I.e., Tiamat, who organized the rebellion against the highest 


For destruction and creation speak, and it shall be done ; 

Declare that the garment vanish, 

And speak the word again that the garment be intact.' 

Then he gave the command, and the garment vanished; 

He commanded again, and the garment appeared. 

When the gods, his fathers, thus beheld (the power of) his utter- 
ance 1 * 

They rejoiced and paid homage to Marduk, King; 

They bestowed on him scepter, throne and palu "; 

They gave him an invincible weapon ' overcoming the enemy.' ** 

' Go and cut off the life of Tiamat, 

That the wind may carry her blood to hidden spots. ' 

When the gods, his fathers, had decreed the fate of the lord, 

They brought him on the road leading to peace and success. 

He made a bow and took it as his weapon, 

He took a spear and fastened it with a cord ( f), 

He raised the club ( T), taking hold of it with his right hand, 

The bow and quiver he hung at his side, 

Placed the lightning on his face, 

With a burning flame he filled his body, 

He made a net to enclose Tiamat therein. 

The four winds he took hold of, that nothing whatsoever should 

The South Wind, North Wind, East Wind, West Wind, 

He brought to the side of the net, the gift of his father Anu. 

He created the hostile wind, the tempest and the hurricane, 

The fourfold wind and the sevenfold wind, 31 the whirlwind, and 
the wind without rival 

He sent forth the winds which he had created, the seven of them; 

To trouble the spirit of Tiamat, they followed behind him. 

Then the lord raised on high the Deluge, 2 * his mighty weapon. 

He mounted the storm chariot, unequalled in power, 

19 Meaning, of course, the result of his utterance. 

*• Some symbol of royal power, perhaps a crown. 

" We know from other sources that the weapons of the gods bore 
symbolical names, just as did the blades among the Arabs of the 
Middle Ages; 

" I.e., the wind blowing four and seven days, respectively. 

** One of the terms for an inundating rain-storm, and used in the 
description of the deluge. See below, p. 446, seq. 



He harnessed and attached to it four horses, 
Merciless, overwhelming, swiftly flying. 
(Sharp of) teeth, bearing poison. 

Then the lord drew nigh, piercing Tiamat with his glance ; 

He saw the purpose of Kingu, her spoils.-, 

As he {i.e. s Marduk) gazed, he (t.c, Kingu) tottered in his gait. 2 * 

His mind was destroyed, his action upset, 

And the gods, his helpers, marching at his side, 2 * 

Saw (the terror of ) the hero and leader. 

But Tiamat {uttered a cry) and did not turn her back, 

From her lips there gushed forth rebellious words M 

... * coming to thee as lord of the gods, 

As in their own sanctuaries they are gathered in thy sanctuar\ 

Then the lord raised on high the Deluge, the great weapon, 

And against Tiamat, who was foaming with wrath, thus sent forth 

(his answer). 
'Great art thou ! Thou hast exalted thyself greatly. 
Thy heart hath prompted thee to arrange for battle 

Thou hast (exalted) Kingu to be thy husband, 
(Thou hast given him power to issue) the decrees of Anu. 28 
(Against the gods, my fathers), thou hast planned evil, 
Against the gods, my fathers, thou hast planned evil. 
Let thy army be equipped, thy weapons he girded on ; 
Stand ; I and thou, let us join in battle. ' 
When Tiamat heard this, 
She was beside herself, she lost her reason. 
Tiamat shouted in a paroxysm of fury, 
Trembling to the root, shaking in her foundations. 

24 The mere sight of Marduk terrifies Kingu and bewilders 

3a l.e, t the whole army of Tiamat and Kingu. 

20 No doubt curses hurled against Marduk. 

* T These two lines, obscure because of the break in the first part 
of line 73, evidently represent the curse intended to annihilate 
Marduk. The god, however, is undismayed. 

** J.*., To Kingu had been assigned by Tiamat the right belonging 
to Anu as supreme arbiter. 


She uttered an incantation, she pronounced a magic formula. 2 * 

The gods of battle, appeal so to their weapons. 

Then stepped forth Tiamat and the leader of the gods, Marduk. 

To the fight they advanced, to the battle they drew nigh. 

The lord spread his net and encompassed her, 

The evil wind stationed behind him he drove into her face. 

Tiamat opened her mouth to its full extent. 

He drove in the evil wind before she could close her lips. 

The terrible winds filled her belly, 

Her heart was seized, and she held her mouth wide open. 

He drove in the spear and burst open her belly, 

Cutting into her entrails, he slit her heart. 

He overcame her and destroyed her life ; 

He cast down her carcass and stood upon it. 

When he had thus subjected Tiamat, the leader, 

Her host was scattered, her assembly was dissolved ; 

And the gods, her helpers, who marched beside her, 

In fear and trembling turned about, 

Taking to flight to save their lives. 

But they were surrounded and could not escape. 

He captured them and smashed their weapons, 

They were cast into the net, and brought into the snare ; 

After he (ie., Marduk) had bound and cast down his enemies, 

Had battered down the arrogant foe, 

Had completely gained the victory of Anshar over the enemy, 

The hero Marduk had attained the aim of Nudimmud," 

He strengthened his hold over the captive gods.* 3 

To Tiamat, whom he had bound, he came back, 

And the lord trampled under foot the foundation of Tiamat. 

With his merciless weapon he smashed her skull, 

He cut the channels of her blood, 

** As a last resort to overwhelm Marduk, to bring him within her 
power through the force of her magic formula. See above, p. 244, 

*° Literally, ask, which suggests that possibly some oracles were 
sought through their weapons. 

81 Which Nudimmud (or Ea) was unable to carry out 

" 7.6., he made sure of their being unable to get away. 



And made the north wind carry them to secret places.*" 

His fathers beheld and rejoiced exceeding glad, 

Presents and gifts they brought to him. 

Then the lord rested and looked at the carcass. 

He divided the flesh of the monster, and created marvellous things. 

He split her like a fish flattened into two halves ; 

One half he took and made it a covering for heaven. 

He drew a bolt, he stationed a watchman, 

Enjoining that the waters be not permitted to flow out. 

He passed over the heavens, inspecting the regions (thereof), 

And over against the Apsu," he set the dwelling of Nudimmud." 

The lord measured the structure of the Deep. 

He established E-sharra as a palace corresponding to it 

The palace E-sharra which he created as heaven, 

He caused Anu, Enlil and Ea to inhabit their districts. ' ' 

The creation of the Universe, which thus begins 
after the overthrow of Tiamat by the formation of the 
heavens, is continued in the fifth tablet which describes 
the constellations and the fixing of seasons, the division 
of the year into months, and of days into night and day. 
All this is done at the instance of Mardtik whose work is 
essentially that of one who establishes order in place 
of chaos, rather than that of a creator. 


"He made stations for the great gods, 
The stars, their counterparts, the twin stars he fixed. 
He fixed the year and divided it into divisions. 
For the twelve months he fixed three stars,'* 
Also for the days of the year (he had fashioned) pictures" 

13 Apparently we have in these lines a second description of the 
way in which Marduk overcame Tiamat. They may be taken, there- 
fore, as another proof of the dovetailing of several originally distinct 
versions into our story, 

** I.e., personification of the deep. 

n I,e. t Ea, the god of waters. 

** Each star presiding over four months. 

,T I.e., the constellations, 


He founded the station of Nibir " to regulate their limits, 

That none might err or go astray. 

He placed the station of Enlil and Ea " with him. 40 

He opened great gates to both sides, 

He supplied a strong bolt to the left and the right. 

In the midst (of the heavens) he fixed the zenith, 

He caused Sin 4l to shine forth, entrusting to him the night ; 

He assigned to him the control of the night for counting the days; 

Each month without interruption he covered him with a crown.* 2 " 

Marduk thereupon addresses the moon-god, though 
it is evident that the original address was made by Anu, 
god of the heavens and as such the one in supreme 
control of everything above. 

" ' At the beginning of the month in rising over the land 
Thou wilt show a horn for a period of six days. 
On the seventh day the crown will be divided { ?). 
On the fourteenth day thou shalt stand opposite, it being the 

half (of the month). 
When the sun-god in the foundation of heaven (is opposite) 


At this point unfortunately the tablet again becomes 
defective, and there is little of it remaining until we 
reach the end. We can only conjecture that the chief 
constellations were included in the description of the 
heavens, and all the courses fixed for the planets, as 
well as the positions for the stars. At the close of the 
tablet the gods gather around Marduk and formulate 
the complaint that, while order has been established and 
the position of the gods represented by the stars fixed 
in the heavens, the universe was empty. There was no 
one to do homage to the gods. Curiously enough this 
complaint of the gods is assigned in the sixth tablet as 

88 I.e., Jupiter, who as the brightest planet is the leader. 

89 Variant, Anu, 

*° Anu, Enlil and Ea represent three divisions of the ecliptic. 
* x The moon-god. 
* a The crescent of the new moon. 



the reason for the creation of man, which Marduk un- 
dertakes in order to satisfy the craving of the gods for 
worship. It is most unfortunate that this tablet also 
is badly mutilated, so that only the first ten lines and 
a few of the closing lines furnish an intelligible se- 
quence. It begins as follows: 


"Upon (Marduk 's) hearing the word of the gods, 

His heart led him to create (marvellous things) 4 * 

He opened his mouth and (spoke) to Ea * 4 

(What) he had conceived in his heart he imparted to him ; 
'My hlood I will take and bone I will (form). 

I will set up man that man . . . 

I will create man to inhabit (the earth), 

That the worship of the gods be fixed, that they may have shrines. 

But I will alter the ways of the gods, I will change . . . 

They shall be joined in concert, unto evil shall they* . . . 

Ea answered him and spoke." 

The answer of Ea is too imperfectly preserved to 
warrant even a conjecture. If the last two lines of 
Marduk 's address to Ea indicate his intention to punish 
the gods because of their complaint, while granting what 
they desire, it may be, as has been suggested, that Ea 
dissuaded Marduk from this purpose; but until some 
fortunate chance may enable us to fill the gap in this 
important tablet it is idle to indulge in conjectures. Nor 
is it certain that this Babylonian version of creation 
contained any account of the actual formation of the 

m Conjectural restoration niklati, proposed by King on the basis 
of Tablet IV, 136. 

** Ea is always introduced as the god of humanity who loves 
and protects mankind ; and in the version of creation which arose 
in Eridu, the seat of which Ea was the patron, it is Ea who is also 
the creator of man. All other gods, however, must yield to Marduk, 
though there is a trace of the older version where Marduk is in- 
troduced as telling Ea of his purpose. 


earth, of verdure, trees and mountains and of animals. 
The main purpose of the poem was to celebrate the 
triumph of Marduk over Tiamat; everything else is in- 
cidental, and even in describing the establishment of 
order in the heavens the chief thought was to emphasize 
the control of Marduk over the gods. At the same time, 
from other fragments of creation tales, we know that 
to Marduk (and in other versions to other gods) the de- 
tailed creation of everything on earth, including verd- 
ure and animals, was ascribed. 48 

At the close of the sixth tablet there is a description 
of the return of Marduk after his labors to the assembly 
hall of the gods in Upshukkinnaku. They rejoice at his 
return and gather to do him honor. 


The seventh tablet is entirely taken up with the 
names bestowed upon Marduk by the gods. The 
names themselves constitute attributes of Marduk, 
though no doubt designating originally local gods 
whose cult was absorbed by that of Marduk. In this 
way by assigning to Marduk the power of all the other 
gods he becomes supreme; and as we have seen, views 
about Marduk in Babylonia and about Ashur in Assyria 
form the closest approach to be found in Babylonian- 
Assyrian religion to a monotheistic conception of di- 
vine government. 46 

"Asari, the source of planting (the founder of sowing), 
Creator of grain and flour, (causing the verdure to spring forth). 
Asaru-alim, honored in the house of counsel (abounding in 

To him the gods pay homage, (and of him they stand in dread). 
Asaru-alim-nunna, the mighty, the light (of his father who 

begat him), 
Who prescribes the laws for Anu, Enlil (and Ea), 

*• See Jastrow, Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions, p. 92. 
" See above, p. 217 and 229, seq. 



Who provides for them, who fixes (their bounds), 

Who provides abundance, brings out . . . 

Tutu, 'the creator who renews them,' 

May their sanctuaries be purified, may (they be pacified). 

May he bring about an incantation, that the gods (may be 

When they attack in fury may he repulse (their advance) ! 
Be he exalted even in the assembly of the gods. 
None among the gods is like to him." 

In this way the text proceeds somewhat monoto- 
nously, describing the manifold attributes and powers 
of Marduk. Towards the close of the tablet an interest- 
ing reference is made to the manner in which, after all 
the other gods had paid homage, Enlil and Ea stepped 
forward and bestowed their names, and with their 
names their power, upon the favorite Marduk. 

"Nibiru* 7 be his name, the one who seized the inside;** 

May he maintain the stars of heaven in their path, 

Shepherding aU the gods like sheep t 

May he keep Tiamat enchained. 

Crushing and putting an end to her life. 

In the future of mankind, when the days grow old, 

May one hear this without ceasing, may it survive forever I •• 

Since he created the region (of heaven), and formed the earth, 

Lord of the worlds, father Enlil 50 called him. 

The name which all the Igigi proclaimed. 

Ea heard and his liver rejoiced, 
* He whose name his fathers have made glorious, 

Be he like I am, Ea be his name ! 

All my commands be in his control, 

All my decrees let him pronounce ! ' 

47 Le., Jupiter. 

4a 8c of Tiamat. 

49 1.e. t the story of Marduk s conquest of Tiamat. 

50 Enlil, the old god of Nippur, confers his own name upon 



By the name 'fifty" 51 did the great gods 

Confer upon him fifty names to make his path supreme." 

The poem closes with an epilogue, calling upon all 
mankind ever to bear in mind the great deeds of Mar- 
duk, and to hand down the memory thereof from father 
to son to the end of days. 

"Let them be remembered, let the older (man) speak of them! " 
Let the wise and the intelligent reflect on them together, 
Let father repeat and teach them to his son! 
Let pastor and shepherd open their ears, 
To rejoice in Marduk, the lord of the gods, 
That his land may be fertile and prosper. 
His word (i.e., Marduk 's) is firm, his command unchangeable. 
What he utters no god annuls, 
He casts a glance and turns not his neck. 
In his wrath no god can withstand him, 
But wide is his heart, broad is his mind; 
The sinner and evil-doer before him . . . M 

The remaining six lines arc again too fragmentary 

for translation, but it is evident that the epilogue closed 
with the glorification of Marduk 's justice tempered with 


The Babylonian Story of the Deluge 

Ae of the Creation story, so of an account of a great 
flood that destroyed the world and mankind we have a 
number of versions in Babylonian literature. The 
oldest of these versions is in Sumerian and is told as 
part of a story of the beginnings of things leading from 

* l As the last of fifty names, they called Marduk "fifty" which 
was transferred presumably from the god Ninib or Ningorsin, who 
was symbolized as * ' fif ty, ' ' and whose temple at Lagash was known 
as E-ninnu, i.e., "house of fifty." See above, p. 200. 

M I.e., hand the memory of Marduk 's deeds down to the younger 



creation to flood myths and thence to the oldest tradi- 
tions of the earliest dynasties of the states of the Eu- 
phrates Valley, 63 while the latest version is embodied 
in the great Babylonian epic, recounting the adventures 
of a semi-mythical hero Gilgamesh. 84 This epic, kno 
to us from numerous fragments in the library of Ashu 
banapal, is a composite production containing a numbe 
of independent tales, loosely strung together, and 
brought into connection with the favorite hero Gil 
gamesh. Some of the tales embody dimmed histori 
traditions centring around the ancient centre U 
while others are nature myths, associated with occur 
rences in nature and in which the gods appear as the 
actors. The epic in its final foi*m comprised twelv 
tablets, corresponding to the months of the year, with a 
least some of the episodes told on tablets the number o 
which in the series is correlated to the season of the yea: 
to which the myth belongs. Thus on the sixth table 
marking the end of the summer season, 50 there is told the 
story of Gilgamesh 's rejection of the marriage offer 
of the goddess Ishtar — symbolizing the loss of nature': 
charms. In the same way, the Deluge story is recounted 
in the eleventh tablet, corresponding to the month whe: 
the rainy season is at its height and the winter sto 
reach their climax. Gilgamesh himself, however, has 
nothing to do with the Deluge. He is somewhat artifici- 
ally introduced into it by the accident of his encounter- 
ing the hero who has escaped the general destruction o 
mankind. Gilgamesh, smitten with painful disease a 

" See Poebel, Historical and Grammatical Texts (University of 
Pennsylvania Museum Publications, Philadelphia, 1914), Plate I 
and pp. 9-24) . On this and other versions, see Jastrow, Hebrew and 
Babylonian Traditions (Philadelphia, 1914), pp. 335-348. 

■* See for a summary of the epic, with copious extracts, Jastrow, 
Religion of Babylonia and Assyria (Boston 1898), Chapter XXIII ; 
and for a complete translation of all the fragments, Ungnad-Gress- 
mann, Das Gilgamesch-Epos (Goettingen, 1911). 

• a The Babylonian year began in the spring. 



a punishment for the insult offered to the goddess Ishtar, 
and fearing death, wanders about in search of healing 
and to secure immortality. He leams of a remote an- 
cestor Ut-napishtim, who has been granted the boon of 
immortal life. After long and weary wanderings with 
many adventures he at last finds himself face to face 
with Utnapishtim, whose name signifies "He who has 
experienced life." Amazed to find Utnapishtim look- 
ing like an ordinary mortal, Gilgamesh asks Utnapish- 
tim how he came to secure immortality. In reply, Ut- 
napishtim tells him the story of a great deluge which 
destroyed mankind, and from which he and his family 
were rescued through the contrivance of Ea, the god of 
humanity. The Deluge was suggested, as was the pict- 
ure of primeval chaos, 56 by the climatic conditions pre- 
vailing in the Euphrates Valley, which before the per- 
fection of an elaborate canal system experienced a de- 
structive overflow at each recurring rainy and stormy 
season. The tradition of a particularly destructive 
flood entailing much loss of life may have been an addi- 
tional factor in giving to the deluge myth its definite 
form. The eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh epic w be- 
gins as follows : 

* ' Gilgamesh speaks to him, to Utnapishtim, the far-removed : 
'I gaze at thee, Utnapshtim! 

Thy appearance is not different. As I am, so art thou. 

And thou are not different. As I am, so art thou. 

Thou art completely ready for the fray. 

. , . thou hast placed upon thee. 

(Tell me) how thou didst enter into the assembly of the gods and 
secure life." 

M See above, p. 427. 

"The text of this tablet will be found in Rawlinson IV. (2d, 

ed.), PI 43-44; the full text of the Gilgamesh Epic in Haupt's Das 

Babylcniscke Nimrodcpos (Leipzig, 1891), supplemented by Haupt, 

"Die Zwolfte Tafel dcs Babylonischen Nimrodcpos" in Beitrage 

zur Assyriologie, I, pp. 48-80. 



In reply Utnapishtim tells the following story: 

"I will reveal to thee, Gilgamesh, a secret story, 
And the decision of the gods I will tell thee. 
The city ShuruppaV a city which thou knowest, 
(The one that) lies on the Euphrates, 
That city was old, and the gods thereof 
Induced the great gods to bring a cyclone over it; 
It was planned (?) by their father Anu, 
(By) their counsellor, the warrior Enlil, 
(By) their herald Ninib, 
(By) their leader En-nugi. 
The lord of brilliant vision, Ea, was with them. 
He repeated their decision to the reed-hut." 
'Reed-hut, reed-hut, wall, wall, 
Reed-hut, hear ! Wall, give ear ! 
O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubara-Tutu, 
Break up the house, build a ship, 
Abandon your property, seek life ! 
Throw aside your possession and preserve life! 
Bring into the ship seed of all living things! 
The ship that thou shalt build, 
Let its dimensions be measured, (so that) 
Its breadth and length be made to correspond. 
On a level with the deep, provide it with a covering. "•• 

In another version the name of the hero of the 
Deluge is given as Atrakhasis, signifying "the very 
clever one. ' This alternate name is introduced also at 
the end of our version of the tale, where Ea says that he 
sent Atrakhasis a dream which the latter correctlv 


understood. Evidently two traditions of the manner in 
which the hero of the deluge was warned of the coming 
destruction were current. Both were embodied in our 

"Now identified as the site of the mound Fara. The name 
also appears as Shurippak, but the spelling with u is more correct. 

n In which Utnapishtim dwells. The reed hut points to the 
primitive conditions in which man lived when the Deluge came on. 

10 The first part of the line is obscure. I beHeve that the cover- 
ing here meant is the deck of the framework. 


tale, which thus is revealed as itself a composite pro- 
duction. Utnapishtim continues his narative : 

"I understood " and spoke to Ea, my lord: 
(The command) of my lord which thou hast commanded, 
As I have understood (it), I will carry out. 
(But what) shall I answer the city, the people, and the elders? 
Ea opened his mouth and spoke: 
Spoke to me, his servant. 
'(As answer) thus speak to them: 
(Enow that) Enlil has conceived hatred towards me, 
So that I can no longer dwell (in your city). 
(On) Enlil 's territory I dare no longer set my face. 
Therefore, I go to the "deep" to dwell with Ea, my lord. 
Over you he will cause blessing to rain down. 
(Catch of) bird, catch of fish,' 
And . . . rich crops." 

At this point the tablet is defective. Utnapishtim 
must have told Gilgamesh how he completed the ship, 
first drawing a plan and building according to it. 
Thereupon the text proceeds: 

"On the fifth day, I designed its outline. 
According to the plan ( f), the walls were to be ten Gar 93 high. 
Correspondingly, ten Gar the measure of its width. 
I determined upon its shape (and) drew it. 
I weighted it six-fold. 6 * 

I divided (the superstructure f) into seven parts. 
Its interior I divided into nine parts. 
Water-plugs I constructed in the interior. 
I selected a pole and added accessories. 
Six " Sar of asphalt I poured on the outer wall. 

91 Referring, evidently, to the mysterious dream, and not to 
the explicit command, which is so clear that it could not be mis- 

•* A Gar is 12 cubits. 

•* A somewhat obscure line to indicate, perhaps, the strong sub- 
structure so as to be capable of holding seven stories. 

• 4 A variant text has "three." 



Three Sar of pitch (I poured) on the inner wall. 

Three Sar the workmen carried away in their baskets.** Of oil, 

Beside one Sar of oil which was used for the sacrifices, 

The boatman secreted two Sar of oil/** 

Utnapisbtim then proceeds : 

"All that I had I loaded on her. 
All that I had of silver I loaded on her. 
All that I had of gold I loaded on her. 

All that I had of living beings of all kinds I loaded on her. 
I brought to the ship all my family and household; 
Cattle of the field, beasts of the field, all the workmen I brought 
on board." 

The ship draws water to two-thirds of its bulk. 
The description of the storm which now follows is 
one of the finest passages in the narrative. 

"Shamash had fixed the time, 
'When the rulers of darkness (?) at evening time shall cause 

a terrific rain-storm, 
Step into the ship and close the doorl ' 
The fixed time approached, 
When the rulers of darkness ( T) at evening time were to cause 

a terrific rain-storm. 
I recognized the symptoms of (such) a day, 
A day, for the appearance of which I was in terror. 
I entered the ship and closed the door. 
To steer the ship, to Puzur-Kurgal, the boatman, 
I entrusted the palace * 7 together with its cargo. 
As morning dawned, 

There arose on the firmament of heaven black clouds, 
Adad thundered therein ; 
Nabu and Lugal marched in advance, 
Ira** tears out the ship's pole. 

* B I.e., "graft" taken by the workman. 
"More "graft." 

* ? Note this designation given to the structure — an indication 
of its large size, w T ith its many stories and compartments. 
" God of pestilence. 


Ninib marches, commanding the attack, 

The Anunnaki •• lift torches, 

Illuminating the land with their sheen, 

Adad'8 roar reaches to heaven, 

All light is changed to darkness. 

• ••>•••••• 

One day the hurricane raged ^. . 

Storming furiously. . . 

Coming like a combat over men. 

Brother sees not brother : 

Those in heaven 70 do not know one another. 

The gods are terrified at the cyclone, 

They flee and mount to the heaven of Anu n ; 

The gods crouch like dogs in an enclosure. 

Ishtar cries aloud like one in birth throes, 

The mistress of the gods howls aloud : 

'That day be turned to clay," 

When I in the assembly of the gods decreed evil ; 

That I should have decreed evil in the assembly of the gods! 

For the destruction of my people should have ordered a combat I 

Did I bring forth my people, 

That like fish they should fill the sea! ' 

All of the Anunnaki weep with her. 

The gods sit down, depressed and weeping. 

Their lips are closed . . . 

Six days and nights 

The storm, cyclone (and) hurricane continued to sweep over 
the land. 

When the seventh day approached, the hurricane and cyclone 
ceased the combat, 

After having fought like warriors ( f ) . 

The sea grew quiet, the evil storm abated, the cyclone was re- 

I looked at the day and the roar had quieted down. 

And all mankind had turned to clay. 

Like an enclosure . . . had become. 

•• A collective name for the minor gods. 
T0 I.e., the gods in general. 
n The highest part of heaven. 
" I.e., be cursed with destruction. 



I opened a window and light fell on my face, 
I bowed down and sat down (and) wept, 
Tears flowed over my face. 
I looked in all directions of the sea. 
At a distance of twelve (miles) TI an island appeared. 
At mount Nisir the ship stood stilL 

Mount Nisir took hold of the ship so that it could not move. 
One day. two days, Mount Nisir etc. 7 * 
Three days, four days, Mount Nisir, etc 
Five days, six days, Mount Nisir, etc. 
When the seventh day arrived, 
I sent forth a dove letting it free. 
The dove went hither and thither; 
Not finding a resting-place, it came back. 
I sent forth a swallow, letting it free. 
The swallow went hither and thither. 
Not finding a resting-place, it came back. 
I sent forth a raven, letting it free. 
The raven went and saw the decrease of the waters. 
It ate, croaked (T), but did not turn back. 
Then I let (all) out to the four regions (and) brought an offer- 
I brought a sacrifice on the mountain top. 
Seven and seven adagur jars I arranged. 
Beneath them I strewed reeds, cedarwood and myrtle. 
The gods smelled the odor, 
The gods smelled the sweet odor. 
The gods like flies gathered around the sacrificer." 

The gods now realize what havoc had been wrought 
by their decision and begin to regret it. Ishtar, more 
particularly as the mother goddess, bitterly laments the 
destruction of mankind. 

Ta Or " after a space of twelve double hours." 

T * Sign of reduplication, i.e., "Mount Nisir took hold of the ship 

so that it could not move. " 
name therefore. 

Nisir means "salvation" — a symbolical 


"As soon as the mistress of the gods ™ arrived, 
She raised on high the large necklace ( f ) which Ana had made 

according to his art. 
'Ye gods, as surely as I will not forget these precious stones at 

my neck, 
So I will remember these days— never to forget them. 
Let the gods come to the sacrifice, 
But let Enlil not come to the sacrifice. 
Because without reflection he brought on the cyclone, 
And decreed destruction for my people.' 
As soon as Enlil arrived, 
He saw the ship, and Enlil was enraged. 
Pilled with anger at the Igigi. 76 
'Who now has escaped with his life? 
No man was to survive the destruction ! ' 
Ninib opened his mouth and spoke, 
Spoke to the warrior Enlil, 
'Who except Ea can plan any affair f 
Ea indeed knows every order. ' 
Ea opened his mouth and spoke, 
Spoke to the warrior Enlil : 
'Thou art the leader (and) warrior of the gods. 
But why didst thou, without reflection, bring on the cyclone? 
On the sinner impose his sin, 
On the evil-doer impose his evil, 
But be merciful not to root out completely, be considerate not 

(to destroy altogether) ! 
Instead of bringing on a cyclone, 
Lions might have come and diminished mankind. 
Instead of bringing on a cyclone, 
Jackals might have come and diminished mankind. 
Instead of bringing on a cyclone, 
Famine might have come and overwhelmed the land. 
Instead of bringing on a cyclone, 
Ira " might have come and destroyed the land. 

TB Ishtar. 

76 Here a collective name for the gods, though generally desig- 
nating, like Anunnaki, a lower group of divine beings; see above, 
pp. 331 seq. 

17 God of pestilence. 



I did not reveal the oracle of the great gods, 

I sent Atrakhasis a dream and he understood the oracle of the 

Now take counsel for him. ' ' ' 

Enlil is moved by this eloquent appeal and is recon- 
ciled. He himself accords immortal life to Utnapishtim 
and his wife, and with this act the story ends. 

"Enlil mounted the ship, 
Took hold of my hand and led me up, Tt 
Led me up and caused my wife to kneel at my side, 
Touched our foreheads, stepped between us (and) blessed us. 
* Hitherto Utnapishtim was a man; 
Now Utnapishtim and his wife shall be on a level with the gods. 
Utnapishtim shall dwell in the distance, at the confluence of the 

streams. ' 
Then they took me and settled me at the confluence of the 

streams. ' p 

The remainder of the tablet is taken up with Gilga- 
mesh's sojourn with Utnapishtim and his wife who care 
for the weary wanderer, He is refreshed by a deep 
sleep, is given guidance for a safe return across the 
waters of death which he had to pass in order to reach 
the dwelling place of Utnapishtim, but the hero returns 
without having secured from his remote ancestor any 
hint of how to attain the boon of immortal life. The 
story merely shows that some favorite of the gods may 
escape the general fate of mankind, but that is all. Im- 
mortality is the privilege of the gods. Man must be 
resigned to his fate, to pass to Aralu, the general gather- 
ing place of the dead after life has fled, and there to lie 
inactive but conscious, imprisoned in a dark and gloomy 
prison, time without end. 

7B I.e., brought me on land. 



Stoby op the Descent op the Goddess Ishtas into the Ia>wer 


The goddess Ishtar, as the great mother goddess, 79 
is the goddess of vegetation in nature, as of fertility 
among mankind and animals. She is pictured as spend- 
ing half the year on earth, when nature is in hloom and 
animals throw off their young, while during the remain- 
ing half, when nature seems dead, she is imprisoned in 
the lower world known as Aralu. The story of her de- 
scent to Aralu is, therefore, a nature myth, symbolizing 
the change from the summer to the winter season, while 
her release is the corresponding change from winter to 
summer. The story, as related in the following poem, 80 
appears to have had attached to it as a moral the faint 
possibility of a revivification of the dead; it may have 
been composed in connection with a ritual in honor of 
the old Sumerian god Tammuz or Dumu-Zi-Apsu "the 
child of the spirit (or life) of the Deep," 81 the sun-god 
of the springtime whose departure was mourned and 
whose return was hailed with appropriate ceremonies. 
In other tales Tammuz is pictured as the lover of Ishtar, 
slain by the goddess because of his rejection of her love. 

"To the land of no return, the land of (darkness [ 7] ) 
Ishtar, the daughter of Sin 83 (directed) her thought," 

70 Above, p. 232. 

80 Cuneiform Texts, XV, PI. 45-48. See further, Jastrow, Reli- 
gion of Babylonia and Assyria (Boston, 1898), chap. XXV. The 
poem consists of lines of two hemistichs, with three beats to each 

M Tammuz is the Hebrew form of the Sumerian Dumuzi, "child 
of life, ' ' which is itself an abbreviation of the fuller name "Dumu- 
Zi-Apsu." This name is an allusion to the sun's rising every 
morning out of the ocean, on which the earth, according to Baby- 
lonian notions, floats. 

* a The moon-god. 

a * Literally "fixed her ear." 


The fifth gate he bade her enter, opened it wide and removed the 

girdle of her body studded with birth-stones.** 
'Why, gate-keeper, dost thou remove the girdle of my body, 

studded with birth-stones*' 

* Enter, lady, for such are the decrees of Erishkigal.' 
The sixth gate, he bade her enter, opened it wide and removed 

the spangles off her hands and feet 
*" Why, gate-keeper, dost thou remove the spangles off my hands 
and feetr 

* Enter, lady, for thus are the decrees of Ereshkigal/ 
The seventh gate he bade her enter, opened it wide and removed 

her loin-cloth.** 
'Why, O gate-keeper, dost thou remove my loin-cloth t * 

* Enter, O lady, for such are the decrees of Ereshkigal.' 
Now when Ishtar had gone down into the land of no return, 
Ereshkigal saw her and was angered at her presence. 
Ishtar without reflection threw herself at her.** 
Ereshkigal opened her mouth and spoke, 
To Namtar, her messenger, she addressed herself: 

'Go Namtar," (imprison her) in my palace. 

Send against her sixty diseases, 011 (to punish [f] Ishtar.) 

Eye disease against her eyes, 

Disease of the side against her side, 

Foot-disease •* against her foot, 

Heart disease against her heart, 

Head-disease 10 ° against her head, 

Against her whole being, against (her entire body [1]).' 

After the lady Ishtar had gone down into the land of no return, 

M It is appropriate for Ishtar, as the goddess who presides over 
the new life, to have her girdle studded with birth-stones, i.e>, stones 
that have the power to secure an easy delivery for women. The 
** birth -girdle " appears elsewhere in folk customs* 

•• Literally ' ' the garment of the pudenda of the body. ' ' 

M The two sisters fly at each other in a rage. 

" The god or demon of pestilence. 

** The diseases are personified through demons supposed to be 
their cause. 

** Rheumatism. 

ioo p e vers and headaches. 



The bull did not mount the cow, the ass approached not the 


To the maid in the street, no man drew near, 
The man slept in his apartment, 
The maid slept by herself." 

The gradual disrobing of Ishtar, her ornaments and 
garments being taken away as she passes from one gate 
to the other, symbolizes the gradual decay of nature 
after the summer has waned until at last Ishtar enters 
the lower world naked, and cold, bare winter has set in. 
It is a time when not only nature seems dead, but when 
among animals and men all desire for new life ceases. 
Copulation among animals has stopped, and even the 
sexual passion among men is stilled — to symbolize the 
interruption in the course of things on earth. The gods 
mourn the departure of Ishtar from the surface of the 
earth and devise plans for her return that life may not 
perish altogether. The second half of the poem con- 
tinues as follows: 

"The countenance of Papsukal, the messenger of the great gods 

fell, his face (was troubled). 
In mourning garbs he was clothed, in soiled garments clad. 
Shamash "' went to Sin, his father, weeping, 
In the presence of Ea, the king, he went with flowing tears. 
* Ishtar has descended into the earth and has not come up. 
The bull does not mount the cow, the ass does not approach the 

The man does not approach the maid in the street, 
The man sleeps in his apartment, 
The maid sleeps by herself.* 
Ea in the wisdom of his heart formed a being, 10 * 
He formed Asu-shu-namir, 101 the eunuch. 
'Go, Asu-shu-namir, to the land of no return direct thy face i 
The seven gates of the land without return be opened before thee, 

101 i.e, f the sun-god. 
1M ^tftrK,"amale." 

,M The name signifies M His exit is resplendent" — clearly a 
tymbolical allusion to the rising sun of the springtime. 




i of the eity be thy drisfc, 
r of the wall be thy abode, 

ifcethrdwe ai s gf ls r i; 

To N tartar, he 
•Go, Xamtar, knock at the 
Strike the threshold of 
Brio* oat the ArimmaJri, i 
Sprinkle Ufa tar with the 

fern a* ***%»*■**»* 

ten of life and take her out 

The gods at the mrtanre of Ea dins form a plan to re- 
lease Ishtar, demanding of Ereshkigal to give the mes- 
senger of Ea, the eunuch Asu-shu-namir, the skin ( t) 
out of which he is to drink, and thus to secure the power 
to fetch Ishtar out of the nether world. Ereshkigal sees 
through the strategy, and in her rage curses Asu-shu- 
namir, but, nevertheless, realizing that Ishtar must be 
released proceeds to do so of her own free will and in 
her own way, by asking the messenger Xamtar to 
sprinkle the goddess with water of life, that when thus 
filled with new vigor, Ishtar may pass through the 
seven gates encompassing the palace of the nether world 

■* An obscure word — perhaps the name of some kind of a bag, 
made of akin, containing the waters of life, 

"' Le., the lowest of the low show their contempt for thee. 

*•• Or "the just palace " where the Anunnaki, the minor group 
of gods, dwell, acting as judges of the dead. 


and at each gate receive back the ornaments and gar- 
ments that she was obliged to leave there. The gradual 
resuscitation of nature after the imprisonment is thus 
symbolized, until when the last gate is passed, Ishtar 
emerges into the world in all her beauty and glory. The 
poem continues as follows : 

"Namtar went, knocked at the strong palace, 
Tapped on the threshold of precious stones. 
He brought out the Anunnaki and placed them on golden thrones, 
He sprinkled Ishtar with the waters of life and took hold of her. 
Through the first gate he led her out and returned to her her loin 

Through the second gate he led her out and returned to her the 

spangles of her hands and feet. 
Through the third gate he led her out and returned to her the 

girdle of her body, studded with birth-stones. 
Through the fourth gate he led her out and returned to her the 

ornaments of her breast. 
Through the fifth gate he led her out and returned to her her 

Through the sixth gate he led her out and returned to her her 

Through the seventh gate he led her out and returned to her 

the large crown for her head. 1 ' 

The following lines are in the form of an address — 
apparently to some one who has sought release for a 
dear one from the portals of the lower world. 

" 'If she (sc. Ishtar) will not grant thee her release, 107 
To Tammuz, the lover of her youth, 108 
Pour out pure waters, (pour out) fine oil ; 
With a festival garment deck him 109 that he may play on the flute 
of lapis lazuli, 

107 i.e. f the release of the loved one through the mediation of 

108 %.e., Ishtar 's lover. 

108 t.e., deck Tammuz *s statue with a festival garment 



That the votaries no (may cheer) his liver." 1 ' 

Belili 112 had (gathered) the treasure, 

With precious stones filled her bosom ( T). 

When Belili heard the lament of her brother, (she dropped [f]) 

her treasure, 
She scattered the precious stones (before her[f]). 
'O my only brother do not let me perish! 
On the day when Tammuz plays for me on the flute of lapis If 

playing it for me with the porphyry ring. 
Together with him, play ye for me, ye weepers and lamenting 

women ! n * 
That the dead may rise up and inhale the incense. ' ' ' 

The closing lines are obscure. We lack the key to 
their interpretation, but it is a plausible conjecture that 
the poem, composed for and perhaps sung at the ft 
val of Tammuz, when, as the prophet Ezekiel (8, 14 ) 
tells us, it was the custom of women to wail for the lost 
Tammuz, closed with instructions to those who in com- 
memorating the departure of Tammuz thought of their 
own dead, who like Ishtar "had gone to the land of no 
return/' to turn in prayer to Tammuz, pour out liba- 
tions of pure water and oil to him, honor him that he 
may at least regale the dead by letting them hear the 
sound of his magic flute. There is a reference here to 
some rite on Tammuz day — which was also a time of 
commemorating the dead in general. Perhaps the six 
lines beginning with "Belili" represent a Tammuz lam- 
entation of which we have quite a number, 114 to be sung 
at the Tammuz festival, with the last line as expressing 
the hope that the dead will be for a time at least re- 

110 Shamkhate, one of the class of votaries, attached to the Ishtar 
cult. See above, p. 307. 

111 i.e., his spirit. 

113 Sister of Tammuz. 

111 The professional mourners who sing the lament for the dead, 
to the accompaniment of musical instruments. 

114 See Ziramern, Sumerisch-Bahylonische Tammuzlktkr {Be- 
richte der Phil. Hist. Klasse der Kgl. Saechs. Akad., d. Wiss. t vol. 
lix,pp 201-252). 


vivified by the song and by the incense. If this interpre- 
tation is justified, the poem would thus hold out a faint 
hope for some joys for the unhappy dead in their dark 
and gloomy prison, 

► IV 

"Eat, Drink and be Merry ' ■ 
Gilgamesh in the course of his wanderings to seek 
healing from a fatal disease with which he has been 
smitten by the goddess Ishtar m comes to a maiden, 
Sabitu, 110 pictured as dwelling by the sea. In the tenth 
tablet of the Epic he is described as arriving at the sea 
with "his strength exhausted and his countenance 
f alien/ ' Sabitu asks him as to the cause of his dejec- 
tion, and in reply Gilgamesh speaks of his exploits with 
Enkidu, how they together overcame the tyrant Khum- 
baba, and how they offended Ishtar by killing the divine 
bull, 117 and how in revenge Enkidu had been snatched 
away, while Gilgamesh himself is obliged to go in 

I search of life, which he feels to be ebbing away. Ac- 
cording to one version, Gilgamesh addresses Sabitu as 
follows: 11 * 

115 See above, p. 444, seq. It is Gilgamesh, the personification of 
the sun-god, who thus appears in the role of Tammuz stricken by 
Ishtar, the goddess of vegetation ; he is the waning sun, approaching 
the period when nature lies down to winter *s sleep. 

111 Sabitu appears to be an appellative, perhaps ' ( the maid of 
Sabu"; another name is Siduri, which likewise has the force of 
'maid." The locality described in Sabitu is regarded by some 
cholars as southern Arabia. 

118 This address and Sabitu 's answer are found in a fragment, 
of Mithraism. See Cumont, Mysteries of Mithra (Chicago, 1910). 

"• This address and Sabitu 's answer is found in a fragment, 
dating from the Haramurapi period (c. 2100 B. C.) published by 
Meissner, Ein Altbabylomsches Fragment des Gilgameschepos (Mit- 
teilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gessellschaft VII, No. 1, Leipzig, 
1902), In this version both the name of Gilgamesh and of his 
companion are written in different fashion from the forms in which 
they appear in the main version. 


"Enkidu 11 * whom I deeply loved, 
Who with me undertook all kinds of different (tasks), 
Has gone to the fate of mankind, 
Day and night I weep for him, 
I did not (want to) destine him for the grave. 
A god saw (him) and came at my cry, 120 
Seven days and seven nights, 
Like a worm he lay on his face, 
After which he was no more, 

(And) I like a vagabond wander about in the wilderness. 
Now that I see thy face, Sabitu, 
The death that I feared I do not see." 1 - 1 

Gilgamesh 's hope is revived for the moment, no\ 
that he has at last reached the dwelling-place of Sabitu, 
from whom he expects aid and consolation. He 
doomed to disappointment. 

4 ' Sabitu speaks to him, to Gilgamesh. 

*0 Gilgamesh, why dost thou run in all directions! 

The life that thou seekest thou wilt not find. 
- When the gods created mankind, 

They determined death for mankind ; 

Life they kept in their hands. 

Thou, O Gilgamesh, fill thy belly, 

Day and night be thou merry. 

Daily arrange a merry -making, 

Day and night be joyous and content ! 

Let thy garments be pure, 1 " 

1J »Enkidu is stricken, and despite Gilgamesh 's hope that 
friend may not be taken away and his appeal to a god, the friend 
languishes for a week and then dies. 

110 i.e., "at my appeal, " but though the god comes, he affords no 

181 According to the main version of the Epic in the form as 
found in the fragments of Ashurbanapal's library, Gilgamesh asks 
Sabitu to help him sail across the sea in order to reach Utnapishtim. 

1M Clean garments are a sign of joy, as soiled garments (above, 
p. 457) are a symbol of mourning. 


Thy head be washed, wash thyself with water ! 
Regard the little one "* who takes hold of thy hand, 
Enjoy the wife (lying) in thy bosom. ' " 

The advice is not unlike some of the utterances in 
the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, the resemblance ex- 
tending even to a similarity of phrases, as, for 
example, 124 

"Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a 
merry heart. Let thy garments be always white, let thy head not 
lack ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest." 

It was a natural philosophy of life for a people who 
looked forward not to extinction of life as the Nirvana 
of Buddha, but to a continuation of consciousness after 
death under most depressing conditions — imprisoned 
in a dark and gloomy cave, there to lie forever deprived 
of all activity and of all joys. Despite this material- 
istic view — or perhaps in consequence of it — the Baby- 
lonians and Assyrians did not fail to emphasize also the 
higher aspects of life, duties towards one's fellows, a 
proper consideration for the weak and helpless; and 
from this level they rose still higher to an appreciation 
of such virtues as purity of heart, self-restraint in 
anger, and the obligations of piety. 125 It may be proper 
to add, by way of illustration, a specimen from a col- 
lection of moral maxims of which we have a number in 
the library of Ashurbanapal. 

1,8 i.e., your child. 

124 Ecc. 9, 7-9. 

125 See further Jastrow, Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice 
in Babylonia and Assyria (New York, 1911), p. 375 seq; and on 
the relation between Hebrew and Babylonian Ethics, the author's 
Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions (New York, 1914), Chapter V. 



The same Gudea prays to Ban, 188 the consort of 
Ningirsu, as follows : 138 
"O my queen, daughter of the shining heaven, 140 

"Who gives proper counsel, who occupies the first rank in heaven, 

Who grants life to the land, 

Thou art the queen, the mother who has established Lagash ; 

The people on whom thou lookest is rich in power, 

The worshipper on whom thou lookest — his life is prolonged. 

I have no mother — thou art my mother, 

I have no father — thou art my father. 

My father . . . in a holy place thou hast produced me, 

My goddess Bau thou knowest what is good. 

Thou hast given me the breath of life, 

Under the protection of my mother, in thy shadow I will rever- 
ently dwell." 

Particularly impressive are the prayers attached to 
the inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian rulers, Nebopol- 
assar and his son Nebuchadnezzar. On the completion of 
Ms palace in Babylon the latter prays to Marduk, god 
of Babylon and head of the pantheon, as follows: 141 

"As my precious life, do I love thy sublime appearance! Out- 
side of thy city Babylon, I have not selected among all settlements 
any dwelling. Since I love the fear of thy divinity, and am 
zealous for thy rule, be gracious to my prayer, hear my appeal, 
for I am the King who adorns thee (i.e. t thy temple), who rejoices 
thy heart, the thoughtful governor who beautifies all thy settle- 
ments. At thy command, merciful Marduk, may the house that 
I have built endure forever, may I be satiated with its splendor, 
attain old age therein, with abundant offspring, and receive there- 
in tribute of the kings of all regions, from all mankind. 

'" He addresses her as Ga-tum-dug. See above, p. 466, and 
PI. XLII, Fig. 3. 

m Thureau-Dangin ib, p. 02-93. 

140 i.e. t as the consort of the sun-god, Bau is also the daughter of 
Anu, the god of heaven. 

141 Rawlinson, I, PI. 58, Col. IX, 47-X, 19. The opening lines 
are similar to the prayer translated above, p. 216. 



On his completion of the temple at Sippar, the same 
king dedicates the edifice by a prayer to Shamash, the 
sun-god, ua who, it will be recalled," 8 is preeminently 
the god of justice and righteousness. 

"0 Shamash, great lord, on entering joyfully thy brilliant 1 ** 
temple, E-barra, look on my precious handiwork! Thy lips pro- 
claim grace for me ! By thy just u * command, may I have plenty 
of offspring. Grant me a life of long days and a firm throne. 
May my rule 1 ** stretch out into eternity, with a just sceptre, 
with good rule. Adorn my kingdom forever with a legitimate 
staff of authority, bringing salvation to mankind. Protect my 
troops with strong weapons against the attack. Answer me 
aright, O Shamash, through thy judicial decision and oracle. 
At thy supreme, unchangeable command, may my s